A new B-52

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Pangur, May 30, 2012.

  1. bsmart111 Well-Known Member

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    They can schedule B-52s to take off from Guam or the U.S. or anywhere else fly to wherever they think they may need support and jusr circle and circle and wait for a call. If a crew member gets a leg cramp he can get up and move around. If he needs to pee he can do it fairly efficently. That can't be done in a Strike Eagle. Then when they get a call they program the coordinates or other parameters into a weapon and drop it. Then they go back to circling till needed. Get low on fuel go out to a tanker and top off. Wake the copilot from his nap laying down somewhere and continue to circle. Get a sandwich, continue to circle or drop another bomb. Eventually (maybe 30 hours after taking off) land back at home station and pick up the dry cleaning on the way home. Repeat this again a couple days later. Yes the B-1 can do almost the same missions but B-1s are much more expensive
     
  2. NothingNow Banned

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    A Long duration bomb truck capable of carrying a meaningful payload for a CAS mission (2x GBU-12 or GBU-38/B and 4x AGM-114 really isn't,) especially since there still is a need for bunker busters and larger weapons to be used in locations like rural Afghanistan.

    Plus, the pilot of a B-52 can get up to stretch, take a shit or have a cup of coffee. It's kinda telling that the latest Russian Strike Aircraft (the Su-34 Fullback) includes these basic features to improve crew performance and efficiency on long duration missions.

    Meanwhile the crew of the F-15E need loads of Amphetamines, caffeine and a high protein diet to even approach similar endurance at vastly reduced efficiency and much higher risk.
     
  3. Pangur The Cat

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    OK, lots of good posts for which I thank every one however where does that leave us?

    where or what is the point of stealth?

    the missions have been to drop LOTS of bombs on next to no defensive targets

    the B1 and B2 are more man power intensive to maintain

    Seems to me a bomb truck still has a place
     
  4. Dathi THorfinnsson Da├░i ├×orfinnsson

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    Sure, but the US HAS the b52 already, and with massively overstretched procurement budgets, theres no way the usaf will spend money on a really low priority item like that.
     
  5. Xavier Imperator Belgicus

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    Supersonic flight has absolutely nothing to do with loitering. Loitering is flying around in circles above an area where ground operations take place, waiting for someone on the ground to ask for fire support.

    Stealth will be usefull when the US finds itself fighting someone with decent air defences.

    And a bomb truck can be very cheap, I'd use unmodified cargo planes, just load them with JDAMs and shove them out of the rear cargo door like you would when parachuting supply crates. So instead of a multi-billion aircraft development program, you just develop a light, cheap, carriage/pallet to hold the bomb and roll it out of the aircraft.
     
  6. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator

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    The B-52 in service are older then the men who are flying and maintaining them. They do not require the maintenance of a B-2 to maintain stealth, but they are OLD and have all the issues related to that, plus the issue of scrounging up parts.

    However, if you really want a follow on system to operate in the ultra low threat environment the best bet would be a 747-8 with proper modifications. The -8 has a cargo capacity of 290,000 pounds, even if you take 25% off of that for added military hardware that still gives you three times the payload of the B-52. The USAF already operates some 747 and has a refueling kit available. You could also use 777 freighter, it has nearly identical capabilities and versions are also in service with the USAF.
     
  7. MattII Well-Known Member

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    It requires a big airbase though, which limits forward-deployment, and it's not like it's possible to guess what's going to need to be deployed , and in what order to pack it. Yes we could do with a bomber that sits between the B-52 and the F-15, but would it get used often enough to justify the cost? Oh, and pilot fatigue isn't such an issue once you remember that you're probably not going to need more than 1-2 aircraft at a time, so you can rotate through an entire squadron.

    The B-52 is good if you have a specific target in mind and it needs a big weapon, but support guys on the ground, especially against terrorists doesn't require big weapons, a Hellfire (see MQ-9) is good enough for just about anything this side of a radar-guided SAM, and if you're going against that sort of stuff, well just about every fighter aircraft in the US fleet can carry Mavericks.
     
  8. FlyingDutchman Well-Known Member

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    The p-8, just like any converted airliner, has a petite bombbay. If it's large amounts of bombload you want, then I wouldn't pick an airliner.

    With the budgetcrunch all allround there aren't many countries which can afford niche aircraft. The fact that a buff is excellent for coin, don't mean it'll do ok in other types of war.

    An airliner is very unsuitable. Pressurehull and all that. Even in the Spanish Civil War converted airliners (Ju-52) were unsuitable as bombers.
    You're better of starting with a c-17's wings and tail and designing a new body.

    Interestingly the usaf next gen bomber is more of a follow-up to the b-2 then b-52.

    Apologies for typos; using a phone.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  9. Bureaucromancer Well-Known Member

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    I think what we'll probably see is a new pair of manned bombers in the short to medium term: one strategic nominal replacement for the 52 but especially the 1 and 2 in most roles that mostly has the goal of high loiter time and lower cost than the B-2 while still being a stealthy and very long range aircraft. Additionally, I would expect a medium bomber replacement for the Strike Eagle at some point, but again focussing more on loiter time than penetration.

    As far as a "bomb truck" goes I'd say maybe in that 2040 timeline once the B-52s start to legitimately wear out. My guess is that the idea will be out there and on the back burner, but in the mean time the B-52s will be flown into the ground. Once we get into the era that they physically can't be stretched any further I think we might (mostly depending on what the strategic situation in another 20 or 30 years) see a very large unmanned aircraft designed purely for low cost, large payload and long loiter times... In my vision is would operate purely in that bomb truck roll, an aircraft that, assuming air superiority, can sit above a battlefield and large volumes of ordinance on demand. It could almost be described as a flying version of the Arsenal Ship concept. It might even bear a shocking resemblance to a B-52 with modern materials and engines (which means a substantially different aircraft, but offers some room for cost savings and leaves room for the idea of an optionally manned aircraft). On the other hand with that mission profile there's a good case to be made for turboprops or unducted fans.
     
  10. andys Well-Known Member

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    ...and load the pallet onto whatever cargo aircraft is available in theatre.

    C-5, C-17, C-27, C-130, etc.

    Add one or two specialists to work the thing and you've got yourself a smart bombtruck.

    Is that a cargo aircraft transiting another countries airspace (no problem) or a bomber (political grief by the bucketful)? Obviously it's "just" a cargo aircraft, isn't it? ;)
     
  11. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator

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    An unmodified airliner would be unsuitable (especially the -8 since the main access is via the nose of the aircraft). That does not mean that a modified version wouldn't be ideal for the "bomb truck" role. You not really talking about a proper combat aircraft, you are talking about a cargo carrier whose cargo is bombs. The -8 or 777 would be an "off the shelf" solution for an ultra low threat environment delivery system such as that under discussion.

    The Next Gen Bomber is designed/proposed to go into high threat environments in wars vs. peer/near peer opposition. It is pretty much the exact opposite of the OP.
     
  12. miketr Member

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    This has never been an issue for the B-52 with its range and air to air refueling. They forward deploy from US to one of our bases like Diego Garcia or Guam and the any place we need them is now in easy mission reach.


    The B-52 has been the most used bomber in US inventory. Usage tells and the B-52 has dumped more bombs than anything else.


    Not what I am talking about. Pilot Fatigue on a mission. You can't stand and stretch your legs in fighter. You can't turn the aircraft over the co-pilot and take a nap. The B-52 can do these things.

    You don't use a $70K guided missile with 10 lbs of HE when you can drop an iron bomb left over from Vietnam or Korea and you fit a $40K - $70K JDAM system to it and you get 200 lbs to a 1000 lbs (rounding here a bit) of HE. A Single B-52 carries more weapons than an entire squadron of attack fighters. Weapons are dropped in ones or twos as needed. A B-52 is artillery on demand.

    The lighter weapons are used when for different types of targets.

    There are uses for both of course.

    Michael
     
  13. MattII Well-Known Member

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    Whereas you can forward deploy

    Uh, I was questioning the development of a new intermediate bomber here, not questioning the worth of the B-52.

    Lack on loiter means you're not going to be on station for long, couple of hours at max.

    Iron bombs are not noticeably accurate, at least compared to guided munitions.

    That's helpful if you want to destroy a buried enemy complex or a tank company, but for taking out a small convoy of light-vehicles or a small camp then a drone is good enough, a lot more fuel-efficient, and a lot less noticeable (the target may not have weapons, but if it's anywhere near the border, the neighbours are going to have a fit).

    Which is kind of my point, The B-52 (or its replacement) will always be useful in certain situations, but it will never be the only bomber. What I question is the need for a specific intermediate bomber, surely a modified P-8 or MC-130 could function as well as a dedicated but new aircraft.
     
  14. Gunnarnz Well-Known Member

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    I doubt that the P-8 would serve very well in that role. It's weapon capacity is plenty for a maritime patrol aircraft, but it just is not suited for carrying the large quantities of ordnance you're talking about - 5 internal and 6 external hardpoints. The major problem there is the low wing; those spars go right through where an enlarged payload bay would need to be (source). Something like a C-130 or C-17 (cutaway diagrams linked) might well be a better bet. For starters they're designed to be able to drop their payload in flight, and you might be able to rig some kind of ventral door instead of using the rear ramp. The internal spaces would need a fair bit of rearranging, but the cargo bay is already clear - no need for renovating stuctural members in order to get the weapons to fit or be deployed.
     
  15. MattII Well-Known Member

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    Well the GBU-10 and GBU-24 are no longer than the SLAM-ER, and wider doesn't matter so much since you'd probably only need to carry one or two bombs, rather than 5 for the SLAM-ER.
     
  16. Gunnarnz Well-Known Member

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    If we only want to carry one or two bombs, why are we even talking about a new aircraft at all? The Reaper drones discussed up-thread can carry more than that and stay up for longer. I thought we were talking about a design to replace the B-52 in the "bomb-truck" role, if all we need to do is carry a couple of bombs we've already GOT the solution in the air already.
    Perhaps we should clarify this - what jobs does the hypothetical B-52 replacement have to do?
     
  17. AdA Well-Known Member

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    Numbers

    The marines have allredy converted their KC130J to be able to drop smart bombs, so that's one way of doing it. If the requirementy is for a small number of aircraft, you have to go with an existing platform. If you want a few more, converting an aircraft mean a proper bombbay with doors under the aircraft. converting an airliner airframe along the lines of the P8 but with a bigger airliner as a base would be the way to do it cheaper, specially regarding operating costs. Since the USAF will have to buy a new refueling aircraft, using the same frame would make sense. So if they go for the Boeing KC46, a 767 based "B3" with a large ventral bombbay would be the way to go.
     
  18. Gunnarnz Well-Known Member

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    I agree, I'm just not sure it's possible. The P-8 appears to carry it's weapon bay in a fairing below the fuselage, presumably in order to avoid having to modify the wing spars where they pass through the fuselage. The 767 would likely have the same problem, meaning that the bomb bay could not be be placed inside the aircraft AND at the center of gravity.
    You might be able to get around it by having two bays, one fore and one aft of the wing spars, but you'd have to pay attention to load balancing a bit more carefully then. Or have the capacity to rapidly shift fuel between fore and aft fuselage tanks as a balancing measure.
     
  19. MattII Well-Known Member

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    Don't look at me, id Was AdA who started talking about such an aircraft, I disagreed that it was necessary, and then everyone started jumping on me because they assumed I was denigrating the B-52.
     
  20. AdA Well-Known Member

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    We need a manned plataform that can carry 12 JDAM and loiter above Somalia for four hours without costing more in flight hours than paying the ransom the pirates are demanding.
    The problem with the B1b, B52, F15E, etc is the huge cost per flight hour.
    The US talks about other countries being reluctant to join them on war fighting missions. One of the reasons nobody mentions is that war is currently too expensive. Easyjet can fly 120 people from Paris to Moscow and back for a fraction of the cost of putting one bomb on a single Taliban held house. Either we have aircraft that are too expensive to fly, or we have lousy accountants...