Did Northrop Grumman reveal The Next-Generation Bomber in Super Bowl Advertisement?

Next-Generation Bomber is one of the highly classified programs of the Air Force. It comes under the top priority list and the most expensive too. The only time it was close to a public debut was a prime time tease during a Super Bowl ad. It only showed the svelte outline beneath a sheet but not a glimpse of the plane was released.

It might cost about $55 billion to build around 100 of the Long Range Strike Bombers. These bombers are designed to fly deep into the enemy’s territory undetected. Air Force would be awarding a contract for the next generation bomber in the coming months. This bomber would have the ability to hit any target at any point on the globe as well as have the potential to fly manned or unmanned. The super ball ad shows a pilot in front of the aircraft, so assume this would be manned bomber.

The estimated price of each bomber will come up to $550 million per unit. The price was estimated in the year 2010, and it’s already five years out dated. But this bomber costs considerably less than the previous model the B-2 bomber. Coming in at a low price will be difficult, if not impossible, analysts said.

“I’m afraid they’re heading down a path here where they have set themselves up politically to not succeed,” said Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “They’ve come out with these cost estimates that are surprisingly low, and they seem to be doubling down on the idea that they can build this bomber cheaper than the last one.”

The contract comes in between the tightening budgets that are forcing the Defense Department to change the way it handles its business. In an effort to keep costs down, the department has worked to increase competition and incite new companies, to bid on contracts.

The combat aircraft industry has been immune from new players who force change and efficiencies unlike the other industries like media etc.

Driven by a new class of young and feisty start-ups led by billionaire entrepreneurs, space has seen startling innovation. Elon Musk’s Space X won the lucrative contracts to ferry cargo and from astronauts to the International Space Station. It’s also fighting to compete to launch military satellites which have been held by United Launch Alliance. A joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The entry for this competition is steep. It doesn’t surprise anyone that no one has entered the combat aircraft market.  The technical challenges are great, the costs high, the industry highly regulated. And barriers to exit are low. If you lose one major contract and you could be out of an industry forever. All of which is why many companies have left the business but “nobody has entered the business of building aircraft since 1969 to any meaningful degree,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group.

Northrop Grumman will be facing off against Boeing who has teamed up with Lockheed Martin. Three of the world’s largest defense contractors with decade long legacies of building planes for the Pentagon, including Northrop’s B-2 bomber, Lockheed’s F-35 and F-22 and F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The new bomber will be a more advanced iteration of its predecessors. Pentagon officials have talked vaguely about how it is actually part of a system, indicating the program could involve more than just single aircraft.

This plane would be a big step-up, the process through which the Pentagon is buying them is virtually unchanged. The Defense Department’s recent record of buying expensive, complicated weapons systems has been disgraceful.

What do you think about the Next-Generation Bomber? Please let us know in the comment section below.

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  • Another Guest (from Australia)

    I wonder what the cost per flight would be on the new Next Generation Bomber aircraft?

    You compare to the B-2A Spirit, its cost per flight hour is $169,313.

    The problem with stealth technology is all based on a lie.
    Why?
    Stealth is supposed to be invisible for radar which it never was. It just reduces the cross section and visibility, making the plane look smaller on radar than it is. Nothing more or nothing less. It is useful only against short-wavelength radar of the kind that might be carried on an interceptor or used by a radar-guided missile. Physicists say no am…ount of RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) coating will protect you from 15ft to 20ft wavelength radar of the kind the Russians have had since the 1940s. If you are putting any stealth aircraft up against the newer generation of much, much more powerful long-wave length Russian radars, as well as the P-14 Tall King family and P-18 Spoon Rest of Cold-War era radars and some of the newer Chinese radars of a ground-to-air unit that would have absolutely no difficulty detecting and tracking an approaching F-35, F-22 and the B-2 bomber aircraft.
    The problem is you’re getting a super complicated aeroplane that won’t be able to fly very much. The two main features of stealth design include a radar absorbent material coating and overall aerodynamic design changes that reduce the reflection of radar. Both of these approaches create tremendous challenges. Because stealth aircraft spend a lot of time around 50 or 100 hours inside in a special atmosphere controlled facility, which need to be retreated after every flight by applying RAM coatings and to prevent rain or dust from damaging them, which goes to show you how unbelievably expensive and very labor intensive. Further, the treatment requires the handling of toxic materials by workers.
    A lawsuit was filed in 1994 by five workers and the widows of two others alleging that the coating treatment caused the worker’s illnesses. Also pilots won’t get enough flight hours in the real aircraft (to refine their skills). Look at the cost per flight hour for stealth aircraft vs. non-stealth. You’ll be talking about somewhere between $35,000 – $40,000 or higher.

  • Another Guest (from Australia)

    We really do need to back to more of the classic conventional airframe designs…..seriously.

    Again stealth is way too overrated, they are a hanger queen and pilots won’t get enough flight hours in the real aircraft (to refine their skills) because of its enormous complexity and an enormous cost per flight hours on these damn things.

    • Another Guest (from Australia)

      What you could do is focus from conventional airframe platforms (for air superiority/interceptor fighters) that rely on concepts for operating further from adversaries using standoff weapons, or known as Beyond Visual Range engagements. Still focus on Within Visual Range engagements and employ electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors rather than trying to hide from them. I rather integrate proven sensors and other systems on conventional airframes, which does provide the pilot exceptional situational awareness and tactical advantages against future threats. The most importantly keep agility, faster acceleration and range as survivability which will give it the edge in a fight.

      Stealth certainly doesn’t provide you a huge, immeasurable advantage. Because of adversaries’ easily in detecting stealth by the use of either ground-based or airborne radar… The designs are imbalanced to optimise stealth in several dimensions.

      For long range strike bombers. You could still also focus from conventional airframe platforms that rely on concepts for operating further from adversaries using standoff weapons and employ electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors.

    • Ninjacat

      You are obviously clueless about why stealth is necessary! Conventional airframes are not going to cut it anymore if anything those poor pilots will be shredded alive even before they get into the battle space given the advances in missile systems and laser targeting technology. Pilots now train on real time simulators that are so accurate and effective they cant even tell the difference between what is simulated and what is real. If your country wants to use their pilots for sky bait then so be it but my country will not do that to my fellow citizens and brothers/sisters going into harm’s way..

      • Another Guest (from Australia)

        Ninjacat,

        You are the one is obviously clueless about why stealth is totally unnecessary, obsolete and very labour intensive!

        Conventional airframes are still going to cut it. Again, they rely on concepts for operating further from adversaries using standoff weapons, or known as Beyond Visual Range engagements. Still focus on Within Visual Range engagements and employ electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors rather than trying to hide from them.

        Yes, pilots do now train on real time simulators, but they are not as accurate, not as effective and they can’t even tell the difference between what is simulated and what is real on their aircraft.

      • Another Guest (from Australia)

        Ninjacat,
        Remember, pilots only get a 8 to 12 hours minimum on the stealth aircraft which is pathetic. To become a great pilot you are required at least 40 hours per month.

      • Another Guest (from Australia)

        Ninjacat, and other stealth advocates/fanboys.

        Here is more information why stealth countermeasures is a billion boondoggle. If you don’t believe me here it is.
        http://www.whale.to/b/stealth_countermeasures.html

      • Another Guest (from Australia)

        Ninjacat,

        During a speech to a Washington audience, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert described what he’s looking for in the next generation of strike aircraft.

        “What does that next strike fighter look like?” Greenert asked the packed forum. “I’m not sure it’s manned, don’t know that it is. You can only go so fast, and you know that stealth may be overrated. … Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable. You get my point.”

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