back to article US Air Force reveals B-21 Raider stealth bomber that'll fly the unfriendly skies

In Palmdale, California on Friday, Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden revealed a US Air Force warplane that had only been shown in artist renderings and is supposed to be seldom seen, the B-21 Raider. "The B-21 Raider changes everything, reaffirming peace through deterrence, advancing technology and ushering in a new paradigm …

  1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
    Joke

    Honeypot?

    "Look, Comrade -- typical American security: login: fieldservice and password: password! When we download this diagnostic software, we can derive the characteristics of their new bomber!"

    ... meanwhile, at USAFCyberCommand NOCC ... "General! We just got a hit! They're going for it..."

    (The easily-accessible software will, of course, contain some carefully-crafted inaccuracies.)

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge
      Joke

      Cloud-Based Diagnostic

      Being the USAF I was assuming they'd developed a more resilient option, a server-carrying high altitude blimp.

      1. Glen 1
        Coat

        Re: Cloud-Based Diagnostic

        Ah yes, the cloud infrastructure...

        #dontexplainthejoke (sorry)

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Honeypot?

      At the NOCC:

      "Colonel, can you confirm that the login and password for the real system are different?"

      ...

  2. First Light Silver badge

    Eye-watering

    Very frustrating to see this obscene amount of money being spent on equipment that may never be used for its intended purpose or anything close to it. But there's never enough money for Social Security, housing, healthcare, or even for properly looking after the human beings who fly in, operate from and maintain these machines. Totally skewed priorities.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Eye-watering

      Very frustrating to see this obscene amount of money being spent on equipment that may we hope will never be used for its intended purpose or anything close to it

      The idea there's even a chance it might be used for its intended purpose is a lot more disturbing to me than that the money could have been spent on something else, or better yet not spent at all so there's less debt left for future generations.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering

        This is a very (extremely) difficult question. I hate to agree, the current situation drove home the point that the world actually is an unfriendly place. Something we have overlooked in the last decades.

        I wish it were otherwise.

        That said, increasing budgets for social programs is needed. And I strongly believe in spending it on education, as early as possible, since I already see gaps in a quite homogenous elementary school. By now it is mostly too late to fix things.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering

          If the figures and forecasts are accurate, 200bn on 30 years is less than 7bn a year. That's less than $25 per year per US redident

          It seems like a big number without context, but compared with both the whole US military budget (740 bn declared) its tiny.

          Of course I agree they can and should do more to help the needy... their social security budget is an annual 13bn

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Eye-watering

            Its intended purpose is a display of strength, the angry dog barking. The angry dog doesn’t have to bite a throat to deter a burglar. Indeed it is preferable if it never does.

          2. bravo6

            Re: Eye-watering

            So it's ok to spend more than half the annual Social Security budget for the next 30 years on one weapon?

            This project will probably be the apex of US hubris and will be remembered by historians as such.

            1. Geez Money

              Re: Eye-watering

              This take is deeply hilarious across many levels.

              My personal favorite being that this is only the third or fourth most expensive plane project the US has going after ngad, f/axx, etc. Comparing annual spend to program cost is a close second.

        2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering

          The problem is lack of understanding of other cultures. The policies were created assuming "they" think like "us" and for instance that we could have achieved peace through trade and being economically dependent on each other.

          That of course was used by "them" to swell their war chests and "they" see west acting like that as fools ripe for exploitation.

          This should never be repeated again and we should start pulling out from China before they grow big enough to kill or enslave us all.

        3. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering

          No one disagrees that the world is unfriendly, but the model of dropping nukes from an airplane is long obsolete in the face of ICBMs and sea launched cruise missiles. If an adversary developed technology able to shoot down all your ICBMs and cruise missiles before entering their territory, there's no way you'd be able to get an airplane across their border even if it was stealthy it had zero radar return.

          We have them simply because the Air Force is run by a bunch of former pilots who don't want to admit the world has changed and continue creating roles for manned aircraft even when they make no sense (either for the mission at all in this case, or for an aircraft going into service in the 2030s to be manned in any case)

          1. GrumpyKiwi

            Re: Eye-watering

            Sigh, it's not there to drop dumb iron bombs, it's there to act as a carrier for PGM's that need to be bought close enough to targets that they can reach them. The PGM's themselves are also stealthy.

            The B-52 is being retained for the "dropping iron bombs on third world targets" role.

          2. Geez Money

            Re: Eye-watering

            Don't write such definitive statements if you're just making them up as you go along. I would suggest actually looking into nuclear doctrine and specifically the nuclear Trinity. Every word you said above is fully incorrect. Also you seem to be confused by the term "nuclear capable" which means exactly that: Capable. Its role as a missile truck for sixth gen fighters is probably going to be the most used.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eye-watering

            B2s were extensively used in iraq, afganhistan, lybia, kosovo... dropping conventional bombs.

            You can;t use an ICBM for a non-nuclear payload. as soon as it's launched, the other side will have to assume it's nuclear armed.

            And as seen in ukraine- cruise missiles can be intercepted much more easily than thought...

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: Eye-watering

              Well exactly, they used B-52s. They didn't even need stealth in that conflict. If stealth is required for dropping non nuclear payload, we have the B-2. What role is an updated B-2 going to fill in a conventional war? Why would such a bomber need to be manned at all?

              1. Geez Money

                Re: Eye-watering

                "they used b2 extensively in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc"

                "Exactly my point, they didn't even use B2s!"

                This bot is broken.

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      Deter aggression

      ... is why. Although I am not sure whose. Given for example the UK joined in Japan's war games these few days.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Deter aggression

        Was the UK playing the aggressor?

        1. PhilipN Silver badge

          Re: Deter aggression

          S'pose it would be OK for China to play war games with Cuba. US wouldn't mind.

        2. NoneSuch Silver badge
          IT Angle

          Re: Deter aggression

          "Was the UK playing the aggressor?"

          Last time they did that against the US, they got a simulated nuclear device delivered to Washington DC in a Vulcan (flying out of Bermuda, I believe.) A week later, the Americans challenged them to do it again as they had beefed up their air defenses. So, they went and delivered another simulated nuke over the Pentagon.

          1. Snapper

            Re: Deter aggression

            Unfortunately that was several generations ago.

    3. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Eye-watering

      Very frustrating to see this obscene amount of money being spent on equipment that may never be used for its intended purpose

      It's primary intended purpose is as a deterrent, to ensure that its secondary purpose - as a nuclear bomber - is never needed.

      IMHO if it does succeed in its primary purpose, it will be money very well spent. Because if it fails, we won't be around to care.

      1. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering

        Yes I do understand the need for deterrence. I also understand that a $25 wrench can cost the Air Force $250 when coming from Defence contractors. So how much of the $725 million cost is ACTUAL cost and how much is grossly inflated pricing? It's not a simple binary spend/don't spend question. Oversight is lax and that 10x inflated pricing is also costing human lives, just in a less dramatic and obvious way.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering

          Military spending, especially on weapons systems, is always vastly inflated for a number of valid reasons (as well as pork barreling!) The kit has to work, every time, without fail. Production runs are generally fairly low in comparison to most commercial equipment, often because with high end weapons system you only have a single customer. The kit has a long, long lifetime of full support including spares and upgrades. None of this, "sorry, I know you only bought it last year, but it's EOL and no longer supported, not even security patches"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eye-watering

            "work every time without fail"

            Plenty of examples where that hasn't happened, but the taxpayer had to pay for it anyway PLUS the extra cost of fixing the problem

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eye-watering

            As the final recipient, the customer is the enemy.

        2. GrumpyKiwi

          Re: Eye-watering

          The $250 wrench (as an example) doesn't produce sparks when dropped - something rather important when you are working around highly sensitive materials. The $400 ash tray people like to mention didn't disintegrate into a shower of glass flechettes when broken. The $500 toilet seat didn't emit clouds of toxic and vision blocking smoke if it catches fire.

          There is a reason why these things cost more - and if like me you have any relatives who are serving and happen to be in harms way, then you can be grateful that it's the enemy they have to worry about, not the tools they have to use.

          1. cryptopants

            Re: Eye-watering

            Except none of that actually happened. And if you bother to do some research like Google, you’d realize that $600 hammers and Gold plated toilet is just a myth.

            1. NoneSuch Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Eye-watering

              "Except none of that actually happened. And if you bother to do some research like Google, you’d realize that $600 hammers and Gold plated toilet is just a myth."

              The hammer I used to use in the service had an NSN assigned cost of over 800 Pounds. I can't tell you (or Google) what I used it for, or on what platform, or even where, but it was used regularly and designed expressly for what I did with it. 'Mil-Spec" has been abused by shady contractors and vendors, but the system works to identify abuses and stop them. People in the military pay taxes too.

              The first time I saw 'gold plated toilet' was in your post so no idea where that came from. I do vaguely recall one in Narcos on Netflix belonging to Escobar.

      2. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering

        ...its secondary purpose - as a nuclear bomber...

        Should really be "nuclear capable bomber". There is no possibility that in a conventional war situation that these would not be used to drop conventional bombs, consider our retired Vulcan bomber, never dropped a nuclear weapon but was still used as a combat plane.

        But in reality "nuclear capable" doesn't mean anything, a Wellington bomber could have carried the bombs dropped on Hiroshima without any problem, hell they would have fitted in a Mosquito but a Mossie would probably have difficulty surviving the shockwave. Nuclear weapons can be made really small now so almost any combat plane is in theory "nuclear capable".

        I'm more intrigued by the no crew option, would this be remote control or "AI" guidance or (perhaps more probably) a combination of both?

        1. Lil Endian Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering

          Wellington or Mossie carrying Little Boy, I don't think so. Lancaster would though, no probs. Assuming you mean:

          Little Boy: 4400Kg

          Payloads:

          Wellington MK I: 2000Kg

          Mosquito: 1400Kg (standard) 3600Kg (short range)

          Lancaster: carried Blockbuster (5400Kg)

          I agree with your sentiment though. Making "nuclear missile" a misnomer too.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: Eye-watering

            You're right:

            I realized a bit after the 10 minute window I meant the Lancaster which could carry one unmodified while the B-29 needed modification to carry them.

        2. TDog

          Re: Eye-watering

          Max payload of Wellington about 4000lb. Official weignt of Fat Man, 10,800lb. Max payload of Mosquito about 4000lb. We can ignore range constraints as they aircraft would be incapable of taking off.

          1. Lil Endian Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Eye-watering

            Erm, DJO already posted saying he'd made a mistake re: Wellington. A fair mistake, so not really sure if that'd be worth DVs. (Not saying you DVd.)

            Fat Man was Nagasaki. So I guess we can all make mistakes, right?

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering

        Deterrence is much better addressed by nuclear submarines. For the 'air' part, most of current fighters can already launch a nuclear-armed missile.

        $100,000,000,000 for nuclear bombers is a lot of money, at least a chunk could be use elsewhere.

        == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

        1. Geez Money

          Re: Eye-watering

          Nuclear submarines and bombers are complements not options. You need both. If you're not aware of why maybe don't talk defense because this is table stakes stuff.

    4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Calling to Defund the Military

      is political suicide for anyone Dem or MAGA.

      OHOH,

      Defunding the FBI, DOJ, DEA and a few dozen other gubbermint departments is a political winner for Ultra-MAGA.

      Drill Baby Drill!

      The years from 2015 to 2030 will be used as an example of how a 1st world country regressed into a 4th world one in 15 years.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Calling to Defund the Military

        How it's phrased matters. Rather than "de-fund" try "re-fund" or possibly even "rationalization", keep it ambiguous and make it sound like the spend could increase if necessary (which of course it's not).

        Governments have a trick to make the armed forces roll over and beg, every now and then they will suggest merging parts like the Air Force and Navy (they both fly planes after all!) and then the armed forces suddenly become very friendly with government.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: Calling to Defund the Military

          "How it's phrased matters. Rather than "de-fund" try "re-fund" or possibly even "rationalization", keep it ambiguous and make it sound like the spend could increase if necessary (which of course it's not)."

          Yes, and it works, like how "global warming" became "climate change." Change the word, change the fight.

    5. Craig 2

      Re: Eye-watering

      "equipment that may never be used for its intended purpose"

      I suggest you look up the definition of the word `deterrent`.

      "never enough money for Social Security, housing, healthcare"

      Recently a few European countries are increasing their defense spending and one which is probably regretting not spending more... There's no point having a utopian society if anyone can come and smash it down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eye-watering

        >I suggest you look up the definition of the word `deterrent`.

        Now we have this fighter nobody will dare crash an airliner into a skyscraper

        > one which is probably regretting not spending more

        If only Ukraine hadn't funded a territorial defense force with man-PADS, but had instead spent all its budget on a stealth fighter it would have been able to defeat the Russian airforce

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering

          I doubt the USA would have sold F-35 to Ukraine before the war...

        2. Geez Money

          Re: Eye-watering

          "If only Ukraine hadn't funded a territorial defense force with man-PADS, but had instead spent all its budget on a stealth fighter it would have been able to defeat the Russian airforce"

          I'll go ahead and tell you to look up the definition of deterrent again. Ukraine absolutely doesn't get invaded if it has a nuclear arsenal.

      2. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering

        I also don't want to be burnt to a crisp by idiots with nukes.

        However, at least in the US, social-needs spending gets way tighter and more relentless scrutiny than military spending. The attention paid to Defense contractor accounting should be at least as rigorous.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Eye-watering

          Part of that is the US having to provide for Europe's defense, allowing them to fund massive social programs while we cover their protection. Made sense for the US for a long time though, since Europeans couldn't seem to stop fighting each other and weaponry finally developed to the point that not-Europe was geting dragged into a war every 20 years. The US should have made Europe pay the bills though, all those decades. If we had made Europe pay for US expenses related to their defense (really putting them in separate corners so they wouldn't keep dragging us into their wars) then the US debt would be much lower, and perhaps we could afford social programs of our own.

          Now I shall sit back and watch for the downvotes from Europeans with shame burning their faces, because my post is both blunt and true, and they damned well know it.

          1. LogicGate Silver badge

            Re: Eye-watering

            And you do not think that having Europe in a militarily subservient role for half a century was to the advantage of the US and US arms manufacturers?

            Especially the UK had a capable and functional arms- and aerospace-industry at the end of WW2.

            Why did the first supersonic flight not take place in the UK?

            Why was the German stealth program so suddenly cancelled once the US became aware of it?

            The current status quo has been advanced by both sides of the pond. It needs to change, true, but to push all blame away is disingeneous from both sides.

            Also, pretending that Europe has chosen social care over military defence ignortés the fact that in the US, the military is uised as a huge (and extremely inefficient) social care system.

            Downvoting you? Naah.. better to discuss things and learn alternative viewpoints. Nobody willk be perfectly right, and only a very few will be so completely wrong that they still make excuses for Putler.

          2. jgard

            Re: Eye-watering

            Dear American,

            Firstly, thank you for your characteristically forthright and uninformed perspective. In just a few sentences, you have provided us with a valuable yet measured contribution to this complex debate.... at least that is what I would say if you had, but you haven't, so I won't. Nevertheless, it's always a pleasure to hear from a brash American friend, notwithstanding your complete ignorance of the historical basis for US militarily imperialism.

            The stereotype of geopolitically ignorant Americans has always felt unfair to me. Yet, with you, the shortcomings are obvious. I'm sure even you would admit to a poor grasp of geopolitics and international relations. But it's not your fault; I can only assume that while your classmates were learning these subjects, you were absent. Given the number of mass shootings in schools, I'd be terrified, and I wouldn't go to school either. Of course, the key to dealing with these horrors is more guns, and I've no doubt you were doing your bit to help. Maybe by polishing your gun at home, by yourself. Or shooting animals in the woods.

            Although your education is questionable, your sense of humour is brilliant. This, in particular, is a classic: perhaps we could afford social programs of our own. LOL! You can afford them now you great buffoon, you just choose not to because you're terrified that your cash might go toward helping someone less fortunate. Perish the thought.

            But worry ye not my friend; your priorities are already in the right place. It's clear from just those few sentences what makes you happy: guns, ammo and Easy Cheese spray. And don't kid yourself mate, if you did get more money, you'd spend it on them before you helped anybody else.

            All the best.

            A European Friend

          3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: Eye-watering

            If only all US Americans would know that about 20% of their tax is spent on military. Make that 19.5%, and you will have enough for education and healthcare. Waste less on wars which were futile to begin with, but you still have to destabilize the middle east. Just google for "Iran 1974" pictures, and you see how it was BEFORE America started to "help". America has problems with religious fanatics they put themself into place. Osama and Saddam were BOTH titled as the hope for the middle east by the US - the latter made problems, and the first one showed what happens when USA thinks it has to play world police.

            On the bright side: There are A LOT Americans knowing exactly what is going on, Team America!

    6. BOFH in Training Silver badge

      Re: Eye-watering

      I am not in favour of spending alot on the military as well.

      But I do understand that sometimes showing that you have a good armed force with great weapons is one way to get the other guys not to start a fight (which although you may end up winning, it may still cost a bunch of lives).

      So I sort of have two minds over this. Yes, it's alot of money. Yes, there are other things which also need money. But on the other hand, showing that you got such military gear may have the other side think twice before starting shit.

      Problem is knowing how much is too much and how much you need to spend to get the other side to think twice.

      1. Glen 1

        Re: Eye-watering

        Indeed, a previous Lib-Dem policy regarding UK nuclear weapons was to have a "minimum viable deterrent".

        It meant retiring the current systems in favour of what some saw as a token gesture response, which wouldn't have saved that much money.

      2. Geez Money

        Re: Eye-watering

        If it helps settle your mind it's not a choice, the US is fully capable of doing both. Focus on the program you actually want to fix, don't gut random things just because you don't understand them.

    7. Graham 25

      Re: Eye-watering

      "equipment that may never be used for its intended purpose or anything close to it"

      It already is serving its intended purpose - ensuring the crazies out there know that if they misbehave badly enough, they now know what hit them even if they never saw it coming or leave.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering

        > ensuring the crazies out there know that if they misbehave badly enough

        Except which crazies?

        This is a super advanced stealth bomber designed to slip past the most advanced air defense networks and enemy fighters. You don't need this to deal with ISIS or Al Queda, throwing rocks out of the back of a DC3 would be enough.

        The trouble is that most enemies that have good enough air defence that you need this to reach their capital city - have nukes.

        Yes this could get to Beijing or Moscow or Paris without being intercepted, but if you want to bomb Beijing or Moscow or Paris you have ICBMs. It's not their plucky chaps in handlebar mustaches that are stopping you - it's that they would return the favor rather finally

        1. Rikki Tikki

          Re: Eye-watering

          Bombing Paris might create an awkward dilemma ... France is a NATO member.

          De Gaulle withdrew from the integrated military structure in 1966, but officially rejoined at the Strasbourg summit in 2009 (and, for the benefit of the geographically challenged, Strasbourg *is* in France).

          1. Rikki Tikki

            Re: Eye-watering

            Oops, read before posting ... France officially rejoined in 2009. Yes, I do recall that Charlie deG has died.

          2. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Bronze badge

            Re: Eye-watering

            Jim Hacker had that one covered (excuse cut-and-paste):

            > Hacker: ...the Americans will always protect us from the Russians, won't they?

            > Sir Humphrey: Russians? Who's talking about the Russians?

            > Hacker: Well, the independent deterrent.

            > Sir Humphrey: It's to protect us against the French!

            > Hacker: The French?! But that's astounding!

            > Sir Humphrey: Why?

            > Hacker: Well they're our allies, our partners.

            > Sir Humphrey: Well, they are now, but they've been our enemies for the most of the past 900 years. If they've got the bomb, we must have the bomb!

            > Hacker: If it's for the French, of course, that's different. Makes a lot of sense.

            > Sir Humphrey: Yes. Can't trust the Frogs.

            > Hacker: You can say that again!

            1. Lil Endian Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Eye-watering

              Bah! Beat me to it!!!

              à la tête -->

            2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

              Re: Eye-watering

              And this is why I made the post above.

            3. Ken G Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Eye-watering

              As last month's British Prime Minister said, the jury is still out whether they're friends or foe.

        2. Geez Money

          Re: Eye-watering

          Please please el reg commenters stop talking about military nuclear doctrine. It hurts so bad.

          ICBMs without bombers are like a three legged dog at best. They're both a key part of the second strike story.

          Nuclear doctrine is public, just look at wikipedia or something ffs.

          Anyway this thing's main job is to be a missile truck anywhere the B52 can't go. Which is a lot of places nowadays, even Syrian militias have air defense.

    8. This post has been deleted by its author

    9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Eye-watering

      "may never be used for its intended purpose"

      Well, according to the fine article, it's primary role is deterrence and defence. So they named it the "Raider". The name sounds more offence than defence. Are they trying to pull the wool over our eyes and make it sound all warm and cuddly?

      1. OhForF'
        Black Helicopters

        Deterrence only

        A plane that is used to deliver bombs even if the target area is heavily saturated with sophisticated enemy air defense (i.e. in an area where the enemy will have dominance on the ground) is quite obviously only useful in a defensive role.

        No problem there, the US is known to never attack without good reason as they are the good ones (tm).

        /s

        1. cryptopants

          Re: Deterrence only

          The stealth bomber does not need to fly over your head to drop its bomb on you. It can do that safely outside your radar detection range.

      2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering

        Well you don't expect to sell that plane to the military with a name like the B21 Maxipad, do you? You know, for protection?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering

          True. We all know the true purpose of the aircraft, but if they want to "sell" it to the public as a "defence" tool, they could have called it the B21 Defender.

      3. Geez Money

        Re: Eye-watering

        They named it Raider to honour the Doolittle Raid, stop being a jackass.

    10. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Eye-watering

      Perhaps, both are needed.

      I was recently in LA, and the scale of the have/have not divide is mind bogglingly shocking even by US-ian standards. Most service sector stuff were hopelessly understaffed; presumably because of "shit pay" and re-evaluation of life choices post lockdown. Homeless everywhere.

      Rebalancing the "value" of low-incomes to make life viable is desperately needed, but I don't see any US govt Dem or Rep doing anything on that front. Hell, it's difficult enough to even contemplate such a thing in Europe let alone our right-leaning friends over the pond.

      Regarding the B21, it's capabilities are frankly an unknown. B2 is by many accounts "not all that stealthy" for a stealth aircraft, and the airframes are now getting rather old (not withstanding the triggers-broomed B52 population). B21 certainly looks like they have refined out the rough edges of the earlier model, and much effort to conceal material selection on the public reveal. Payload obviously less, though payload does not matter if you can't deliver it.

      1. cryptopants

        Re: Eye-watering

        You must think the stealth bomber must fly directly overhead to be able to drop it’s bombs on its target.

        That’s not how this works. It’s not that kind of a bomber. It has a delivery system that can launch safely outside the detection range of the most sophisticated radars. And no, it’s not invisible but it very difficult to detect at med-long ranges. That is precisely it’s operating envelope. It’s working as it’s designed it’s not a failure.

    11. cryptopants

      Re: Eye-watering

      It’s not at all wasteful. Think of all of the engineers that are being employed at good salaries that is going right back into the US economy, and those people are paying taxes.

      If you think that’s a waste, then you might not actually understand the issue.

      https://www.reddit.com/r/Perun/comments/wcy3m5/defence_economics_and_the_us_production_advantage/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Unit Cost

    Can we have a new Reg Standard please, for warbirds, based on the unit cost of a F-35. A Pogba is like using the old Italian Lira...

    Of course the problem is what is the unit cost of a F-35. It's one of those "known unknowns"

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Unit Cost

      If I understood correctly, one of the new bombers will cost approx 7 Pogbas, so no new units based on F35s are needed.

      Incidentally, whatever their purchase cost, both F35s and Pogbas seem to spend an inordinate amount of time unfit for action...

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Unit Cost

      well the price of a F-35 varies a lot, depending on the customer, for the same number of planes.

      what the French call "à la tête du client".

      (should I create a new crypto-(ina)currency based on the F-35 retail price?)

      1. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: Unit Cost

        The unit cost has dropped a lot as the numbers built grow. It's now cheaper than the Swedish Grippen which is why the Swedes haven't been able to sell any since 2014.

        We could have a unit called the "El Reg Ignoridefence" which is based on how badly the Register does at reporting anything defence related since Lewis Page was given the flick. Every Reg article on the F-35 is equivalent to 1 Ignoridefence. For example articles on the RN's Carriers seem to range in the 0.5 to 2.5 units. The demise of Lester means anything space related gets 2+ automatically.

        1. Geez Money

          Re: Unit Cost

          The real gems are usually in the comments where people who write C# LOB apps are trying to sound smart by saying anything contrarian and just end up repeating stuff from Russian bots or RT.

          And in case anyone doubts that, scroll up slightly with the knowledge that both "F35 expensive" (it's actually cheaper than many/most 4th gen planes due to volume production) and "F35 unreliable" (actually comparable readiness rates to any other platform) are rooted entirely in a couple interviews a fake defense expert gave Russia Today and have been soundly derided by everyone with any credibility.

    3. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Unit Cost

      "A Pogba is like using the old Italian Lira..."

      May I suggest using 1 Matt Wanksock Hancock PPE contract instead?

    4. cryptopants

      Re: Unit Cost

      Perun has the breakdown on costs. You can get a fifth generation for roughly what it cost to buy a Swedish Grippin.

      https://youtu.be/7Z_gTGJc7nQ

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Demented is as demented does.

    However, from elsewhere, another completely different view .......

    Yet another boondoggle to deliver debt and destruction to all foolish and crazy enough to desire its wares and fare. Is Uncle Sam retarded/content and intent to be permanently afflicted and effected by learning difficulties for such produce identifies one more as the warmonger to deny and vanquish rather than herald one as the peacemaker to support and laud? Are Uncle Sams totally blind to that see?

    Or is certifiably mad and psychotically dangerous the more accurate diagnosis, with terminally long secure confinement in the lunatic asylum the only answer to deal with such tendencies/activities?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Demented is as demented does.

      The problem America finds itself in is that "fucking massive bomb" exists.

      If they don't have their own and the means of using it, some asshat (glances eastwards) might decide to unveil and use theirs.

      Thus the way we have some semblance of "world peace" given that thousands of these "fucking massive bombs" actually exist, is through the use of sophisticated deterrents to ensure that it is made clear that whoever strikes first will burn and die just as much as the other side. There will be no winners, we'll all go down together.

      Yes, it's absolutely mad. But that's how it is. Let me know when I can get myself a ticket to Mars...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let me know when I can get myself a ticket to Mars

        Unless you are really pally with Emperor Elon the Merciful owner of Twitter OR have a few hundred million USD to spare, then forget about it.

      2. NapTime ForTruth

        Re: Demented is as demented does.

        Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact, it's cold as hell. And there's no one there to raise them if you did.

      3. lglethal Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Demented is as demented does.

        The doctrine is known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

        It's basically the only thing that has kept the relative peace between India and Pakistan for the last 30 years. It also kept the cold war, cold.

        And has so far, proven effective at keeping us all alive. Then again I don't know for how much longer it will hold, as we seem to be getting more and more insane leaders in both democracies and autocracies. So I wonder how long it will be until sometime really jumps the shark...

        Depressing thoughts for the day... I think everyone needs one of these - - - >

    2. Tail Up

      Re: Demented... ...does

      No bank would credit Hollywood filming such a screenplay. The scales are turning to the 3rd block's favo(u)r, just see the reaction, in a simpliest way confirming that the hands on iit are led by, at least, naivety.

  5. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    "Northrop Grumman describes the B-21 as "a digital bomber" and says the defense firm uses "agile software development...""

    So by the early 2030's, we can expect the stories of B-21 crashes due to "software glitches" to start appearing . I mean, if there's ever been something that deserves slow, methodical, traditional software development, a $750,000,000 airplane carrying nuclear warheads would sure seem to be it.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "So by the early 2030's, we can expect the stories of B-21 crashes due to "software glitches" to start appearing"

      They'll probably fix them with live updates that require systems to reboot regardless of whether the plane is in the air or not.

      1. Blazde
        Facepalm

        20280301053506.2 Three targets acquired, awaiting munition selection

        20280301053510.6 Alert: New bogey detected at 170° 20km range +1100 metres altitude

        20280301053525.9 Lock detected at 162° 14km range +800 metres altitude, heat sig. consistent with CH-AA-10A

        20280301053531.1 Radar analysis confirms CH-AA-10A inbound 160° 7km range +400 metres altitude

        20280301053531.7 Chaff pods 6 & 8 auto-deployed

        20280301053531.8 Evasive manoeuvres recommended in 2.5 seconds

        20280301053532.0 Hi!! Your B-21 Raider is installing new updates, please wait... current progress 1/6, 5%

      2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        would the plane perform a loop when rebooting while flying?

    2. Caver_Dave Silver badge

      Digital twins

      A digital twin means that they can f*ck it up virtually without crashing the plane and you can have hundreds of people working on the problem relatively cheaply, each with their own virtual plane (or part of the plane).

      There are a number of commercial platforms (and probably a few secret ones) this might be based on.

      I know that one of the best features of the Wind River tool, for instance, is the ability to 'run time backwards' to see what led up to the problem.

      The use of Agile does not mean that DO178C (or other standards) cannot be achieved. It is just a method of deciding and controlling which activities are being concentrated on at any one point in time (sprint). It is simply a different way of decomposing a project. I prefer the decomposition into 'components' with their own requirements, code and test (with all the DO178C controls) for later integration under the overarching PSAC, SCMP, etc. But it's horses for courses, or Managers latest fad.

    3. sitta_europea Silver badge

      "...if there's ever been something that deserves slow, methodical, traditional software development, a $750,000,000 airplane carrying nuclear warheads would sure seem to be it."

      Why do you think it cost $750,000,000?

      1. Chillihead666

        From the article

        At an estimated acquisition cost of somewhere between $692 million and $752 million ($550 million in FY 2010) per plane

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Just Brilliant .... Morons’R’Us on the Road to Nowhere Good and Great

          From the article

          At an estimated acquisition cost of somewhere between $692 million and $752 million ($550 million in FY 2010) per plane .... Chillihead666

          So, Chillihead666, based upon the well known history of military contract estimates, at least a trillion dollars [$1000,000,000] per plane is much more likely to be the boondoggle cost? And for something which all hope will never actually need to fly* and deliver a MAD payload guaranteeing amongst other things also its paymasters' own annihilation.

          What a fantastic masterplan. Absolute genius. Talk of all of those bridges to nowhere for sale pale into insignificance with the advent and introduction of that simple latest military industrial complex move, which one has to admit, y’all were presidentially advised to beware of and look out for quite some time ago, in a speech of less than 10 minutes, on January 17, 1961 ......... https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/president-dwight-d-eisenhowers-farewell-address ...... with this short extract giving you the full flavour of the whole speech ...

          A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be might, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. . . . American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. . . . This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. . . .Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. . . . In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. ...... The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

          * Okay, I know it is supposed to next generation stealthy, but has anyone captured it actually flying yet? A video would be nice. One surely doesn’t want anyone realising ..... Oh no, not another Spruce Goose/BAC TSR-2 type fiasco?

          1. First Light Silver badge

            Re: Just Brilliant .... Morons’R’Us on the Road to Nowhere Good and Great

            Or a fragile rain-averse stealth bomber (B2).

            https://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/23/world/the-2-billion-stealth-bomber-can-t-go-out-in-the-rain.html

            1. Geez Money

              Re: Just Brilliant .... Morons’R’Us on the Road to Nowhere Good and Great

              Worth pointing out that the article from 1997 was based on preliminary/preproduction testing data and thoroughly debunked at the time. 25 year old misinfo is still misinfo.

              How wrong is it? Let's just say B2s are flown preferentially in the rain by the Air Force, who probably would know.

              https://www.airandspaceforces.com/article/0198bombers/

      2. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        "Why do you think it cost $750,000,000?"

        Yeah, you're probably right. Will probably be $1,000,000,000+ by the time the 10th one rolls off the line...

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Yeah, I came to post "agile development, advanced bomber, what could possibly go wrong?".

      Doctor Strangelove, anyone?

      1. RobThBay

        agile software development....

        I've seen that defined as ....move fast and break things...

        1. Filippo Silver badge

          "Move fast and break things" is, like, the entire job of a bomber.

    5. steelpillow Silver badge
      Coat

      Rustless

      Its stealthy all-composite construction means you can't rely on Rust to prevent over flows* and crashes either.

      * Are those the same as over flights?

  6. James Anderson

    What a waste of resources

    Since it’s less than half as good as the venerable B52.

    1. a pressbutton

      Re: What a waste of resources

      You never know, it may do something to challenge "rock lobster" one day.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: What a waste of resources

        Roam if you want to, roam around the world

        Roam if you want to, without wings without wheels

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's something wrong with it.

    I mean, it's a stealth bomber, right? Then why can I see it?

    :)

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: There's something wrong with it.

      I assume you're a robot that uses radar to "see"?

      1. cheb

        Re: There's something wrong with it.

        Time to update the reCAPTCHA picture selection?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's something wrong with it.

        Observe the whooshing sound :)

        1. Geez Money

          Re: There's something wrong with it.

          I don't think making fun of you for using a tired and hackneyed joke was a whoosh there buddy.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wake up world!

    What is the world coming to? Basically, if people got on with each other, and we didn't have totally bonkers power crazies around (are you listening Trump, Putin and others?) and the charmless idiots who vote for them, we wouldn't need such an abomination of a colossally expensive spreader of death. What could possibly go wrong with a nuclear-capable, software-driven monster like that? I dread to think.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Wake up world!

      You just know that the control system used to fly these aircraft unmanned will be called Skynet...

      1. SCP

        Re: Wake up world!

        "will be called Skynet"

        That is all rather old hat. This is for the World of Tomorrow, so it will be "Sky Captain".

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Wake up world!

      To understand your current situation and existence, in order to be able to arm and free yourself from their confines and tribulations whilst also being able to "stick it to the man” if you so desire, understanding and accepting as gospel what you can read of global command and unilateral control here ..... https://www.theburningplatform.com/2022/12/02/we-are-trapped-in-a-truman-show-directed-by-psychopaths/ ...... will be time very well spent if you really want to know how everything is marshalled around you.

      You will certainly never ever be able to do anything about everything if you choose to remain ignorant of such arrogant things so take heed and follow what is free sound advice which will definitely not hinder you and most likely will always assist you for the rest of your life.

      And you don’t get much of that sort of help for free nowadays, do you.

      1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

        Re: Wake up world!

        what you can read of global command and unilateral control here .....

        It started off OK. Sadly it then went to the entire "Covid is a scam" thing.

        I would ask the author:

        1. Let's suppose that infectious diseases are real (most of us have personal experience of this at some time in our life); also, that there exist diseases with a fatal outcome for a non-zero percentage of those infected.

        2. Suppose that some diseases are so infectious that they can spread rapidly across entire populations. (I'd say that seems reasonable too, unless you are somehow able to rule out the possibility that an infectious disease *could* behave this way. You'd also have to discount history of things like the Black Death, in which case you pretty much have to discount *all* history)

        3. Now a more difficult supposition: but just say hypothetically, that there was a government which was honest, *not* manipulating the population, but concerned for their general well being. This government made decisions based on the limited information available at the time, attempting to minimise overall harm.

        How do you think such a government would respond to a pandemic of a new disease not seen before? And how would it differ from the "scam" under which we've apparently been living?

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          Re: Wake up world!

          Or, a middle ground ( based on England but I assume other countries followed the same basic pattern ):

          The opposition and media whipped up a frenzy where no restriction was enough and that if the government didn't euthanise the entire population* to prevent the spread of the disease, it was painted as being responsible for literally murdering people.

          * That might be a slight exaggeration

          So the government found it very difficult to only impinge on our freedom as little as required - the calls were always for more restrictions.

          Remember "freedom day"? When lockdown ended? The whole media and opposition were pretending to be appalled at the recklessness of letting us live our lives.

          Covid wasn't a scam, but after the first lockdown, almost everything was an overreaction.

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Wake up world!

          "How do you think such a government would respond to a pandemic of a new disease not seen before? And how would it differ from the "scam" under which we've apparently been living?"

          That would highly depend on the competence (or lack thereof) of the hypothetical government. Their willingness to follow scientific evidence. Their willingness to listen to non-mainstream scientific evidence that was different to what their pet agencies tell them. Their willingness to change tack if new evidence emerges. Their willingness to do the right thing regardless of the political cost. Their willingness to not trample over their citizens rights based on poor understanding of the facts on the ground. Their ability to stop political partisanship to determine the 'science' and subsequent actions taken.

          Frankly speaking, not a many governments came out of this with much bonus points. Yes they were dealt a shitty hand but most of them played it terribly.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

            Re: Wake up world!

            The problem was that there was no winning move. The populist thing was ever increasing restrictions. The lesser populist thing was no restrictions.

            Politics usually fails us when everybody agrees on something. When the government, the opposition and the media are competing as to who can out-compete each other toward the same goal. It is bad for everybody when dissenting voices are shouted down or presented as lunatics.

            1. jmch Silver badge

              Re: Wake up world!

              "there was no winning move."

              The best performing countries by least excess deaths ( over 2 year + timeframe) and least economic loss fall squarely in one of 2 categories - Those that locked down early, strong, and kept it tight (eg Australia and NZ), and those that had minimal or no lockdowns and masking rules and relaxed them ASAP, taking an early hit for a better long term outcome (eg Scandinavia and to a lesser extent Switzerland)

              The worst hit western countries were the ones who locked down late and then had measures turned into political footballs (UK and US) and those who made disastrous policy decisions (Eg Italy)

              1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                Re: Wake up world!

                Oh come on, you are comparing countries with VERY different population density... it is easy to keep distance if there are not that many people around.

                Australia: 3.4 persons per km² (though rather 34 per km² if you ignore the vast unused deserts).

                New Zealand: 20 persons per km²

                Italy: 200 per km²

                Germany: 235 per km²

                UK: 278 per km²

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Wake up world!

      charmless idiots who vote for them

      I'll give ya Trump, but I'm pretty sure no one actually voted for Vlad Putin, Xi Jinping, or Kim Jong-un and meant it.

      And if we had people that got on with each other and weren't dicks, we wouldn't have 4-chan and youtube comment sections. People are mostly gormless dicks, it's just some of them are in positions of power with nuclear weapons.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Wake up world!

        Also no one voted Klaus Schwab and he seems to be running many governments now.

    4. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Wake up world!

      > if people got on with each other, and we didn't have totally bonkers power crazies around (are you listening Trump, Putin and others?) and the charmless idiots who vote for them, we wouldn't need such an abomination of a colossally expensive spreader of death.

      That sentence is totally correct, but that "if" at the beginning is doing a lot of work. People have never reliably got on with each other.

      Honestly, if the problem is "how do we avoid nuclear apocalypse", I hate that the only answer is "mutually assured destruction"... but exactly what alternative would you propose?

      Because "let's assume that all of a sudden people all over the world stop behaving like they have behaved for the past hundred thousand years" is not a solution. It has never happened before, there is literally no rational reason to think it would happen by itself. You'd need a way to make it happen. And at this point we've tried a whole bunch of different political systems, religions, philosophies - not a single one of them has managed to get people to get on with each other at scale for very long.

      I don't even feel particularly cynical in pointing this out, not anymore than I'd feel cynical in pointing out that gravity exists. At some point, it's no longer good or evil, it's just a force of nature. I mean, I can indulge in wishful thinking that people would suddenly and inexplicably start getting on with each other, but at this point I might as well just wishfully think that nukes magically stop working, or that I'd grow wings and fly.

      If someone came up with a new idea in politics or sociology or psychology that might result in a society that can be trusted to remain stably peaceful indefinitely, I'd be up for testing it if it's not patently bonkers... but until then, there's a world that needs to be kept unburnt, and so MAD it is.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        How to wake up and take over deaf, dumb and blind world for/with a free radical makeover ‽ .

        If someone came up with a new idea in politics or sociology or psychology that might result in a society that can be trusted to remain stably peaceful indefinitely, I'd be up for testing it if it's not patently bonkers... .... Filippo

        Methinks one would be patently bonkers and both verifiably mad and certifiably insane to not test such ideas whenever they come up and persistently spontaneously appear for active peer review and live programming beta testing* ..... Creative AIRealisation ... the Next Great Quantum Leap Step

        * ... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Peer Review and Live Operational Virtual Environment Programming Beta Testing, an Advanced Cyber Treat and/or Threat depending upon one’s own particular and peculiar mindsets.

  9. Deimos

    I particularly Love the idea of “unmanned mode”

    Which effectively makes it a reusable missile.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: I particularly Love the idea of “unmanned mode”

      I think the unmanned mode will be a useful option for maintenance flights but less so for combat, I struggle to think of a mission that's deemed too dangerous to use meatbag crews but also so niche* that a B21 has to be used instead of half a dozen cruise missiles (far cheaper).

      Given that hacking one to steal will be the holy grail for a few countries intelligence networks, I expect these to be manned whenever a flight includes enough fuel to reach an unfriendly landing strip.

      *Not including the politically driven 'look what we can do' mission that will occur within six months of IOC.

      1. Geez Money

        Re: I particularly Love the idea of “unmanned mode”

        I don't know if it would be compliant to do so, but I suspect any actual nuclear drops are best done unmanned. I think the other situation is when it's unmanned because it's linked to an NGAD as a wingman, which should be a thing.

    2. Stork Silver badge

      Re: I particularly Love the idea of “unmanned mode”

      I was thinking “massive drone “ when I read it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it still show up on VHF weather radar...

    ..especially when it rains and gets wet?

    I remember when they "mysteriously" shut down the NOAA VHF weather radar stations in SoCal in the 1980's because it seems they had no problems tracking the movements of the first gen prototype planes flying over the High Desert area proving grounds. Also showed up nicely on 1950's and 1960's era Soviet air defense radar. Which is why the US put so much effort in Wild Weasels and HARM missiles.

    The Serbians who shot down the F-117 had no real problems tracking the F-117's. But because of the Wild Weasels that had to fly shotgun for the F-117's the SAM radar could only be used in 10 sec bursts before they had to move to a different location. It seems track and scoot then shoot and scoot works. If done property. It also helped that the USAF were so arrogant that they flew the aircraft on the same routes taking off at exactly the same time every mission.

    1. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: Does it still show up on VHF weather radar...

      That is pretty much 100% incorrect.

      The Serbian's figured out that the USAF was flying exactly the same path at exactly the same time each night. They then fired a barrage at that spot and got lucky.

      As for the 1950's and 60's Soviet radars, what do you think Iraq was running in 1991? And again in 2003? Why do you supposed that both the Russians and the Chinese put so much effort post 1991 into stealth aircraft detection? After all if their 1950's and 60's radars could detect stealth they had nothing to worry about right?

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        Re: Does it still show up on VHF weather radar...

        Whenever I read a post like the OP's, I do wonder whether it's intentional disinformation or intentional disinformation that has been repeated by a useful idiot, like the Russian lie that the USA has a veto on whether the UK can fire Trident missiles in order to try to turn public opinion against it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Does it still show up on VHF weather radar...

          @disgusted of TW

          Some of us were in SoCal back in the 1980's. When "mystery plane" crashes in High Desert were a semi-regular story on LA TV local news. Heard the story of the NOAA radar (there were other tracking stories too at the time) from someone with first hand knowledge. A great source of military contractor war stories over the decades. Having worked at a senior EEE level on a bunch of them. Many decades in military and later civilian aviation.

          As for independent use of the UK deterrent. You should check out the Wilson Cabinet papers on that one. At least what has been declassified. It was technically true and became a big deal politically in the early 1980s during Casper Wienbergers early days at Defense Dept. All over the UK press at the time much to the Thatcher governments embarrassment. Before your time perhaps. I also know how the UK got around the technical aspect of the "US Lock" so it was not just the Force De Frappe that could make things go bang back then. But now we are now very much into OSA territory.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does it still show up on VHF weather radar...incorrect? really?

        > That is pretty much 100% incorrect

        Nope. I read the technical post-mortem prepared for a USAF contractor. The regular as clock work flight plan made it easier. But it was the Wild Weasels that kept the Serbian radars off-line except in very short bursts. I was impressed in just how quickly the HARM's got a firm lock once the radars started broadcasting. Anything over 10 secs online and you were pretty much toast. It took at least 30/45 secs back in the Cold War and even then..

    2. Geez Money

      Re: Does it still show up on VHF weather radar...

      I can't believe this embarrassing nonsense is upvoted. Stealth missions are literally flown preferentially in the rain for the visual concealment my guy. Maybe some early prototypes had some issues 40 years ago but I'd bet you have no clue why those radars were being turned off and are repeating a rumour.

      The F117 is absolutely not detectable with 60s air defense. If the S125 could track an F117 there'd be more than one shoot down. You yourself demonstrate some knowledge of this fact by mentioning that they knew ahead of time where to shoot. Also the F117 is entirely obsolete today, including its RAM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does it still show up on VHF weather radar...what?

        ..and Geez Money you show by your rambling drivel that you have not the slightest technical or historical knowledge of the subject.

        I've known, worked with, and talked shop with over the decades with the people who worked for the companies that developed and built most of these system. Engineers love to talk war stories. Almost always f*ck ups. And the more experienced of them have a very cynical sense of black humor about the subject. And anyone who has worked for any big military contractor will have some very interesting tales to tell. If you think the people who fly them are cynical about the manufacturers claims you should hear what the people who build them have to say.

        There was a lot written back in the 1970's and 1980's about how "stealth technology" was mostly hoo-ha pushed by the Big Military Contractors as the next big thing that would make aircraft "invisible". Far bigger margins on exotic technology than on the bog standard F-18's. As usual, follow the money. Because results you get in the labs and in very controlled tests and not going to happen in a real world combat environment. Where the other side get a vote. As the Russian have discovered to their cost. It would be no different for the USAF in a peer / near peer conflict. And stealth will prove to be just a marketing gimmick. As the more technically astute pointed out 40 years ago.

  11. Jemma

    Inbredistan, always a good decision..

    Seriously - the same people who make a SVTOL aircraft with a fucking huge airbrake right behind the cockpit.. And another that's favourite method of anti personnel attack is gassing its pilot (F35/22 respectively) and they make a slave circuited Horton Bros. Special... Anyone else thinking Katana Fleet* here?

    What could possibly go wrong - a disgruntled employee with a bulldozer fetish borrows one after he's had a bad day? Nah that'll never happen.

    Chinese jet spoofs your signal and turns the bloody thing into Project Aphrodite, "that there huge crater used to be a town called Wahshingtun"?

    Darth Dumbass gets re elected and civil war II breaks out.. To quote "let's nuke Las Vegas"

    I really wanted to learn how to swim, I thought I'd have time... (And stick my tongue down to Ally Sheedys tonsils.)

    *our ships look like huge dildoes..

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Inbredistan, always a good decision..

      I think of it as an act of self-immolation. This project sucks money and engineering talent out of society. The sort of resources that, if properly deployed, would make the US competitive with a country like China. So we complain about China, build weapons to attack them (all the while complaining about their 'aggression') and wonder why they're taking our markets in just about everything.

      This isn't new. I'm a beneficiary of this in a way. My old country -- the UK -- went into terminal industrial decline because it preferred profits from government (military) work to maintaining competitiveness so I found work in the US. There were plenty of openings in the US because at the time -- the 1980s -- the Reagan military buildup had sucked all the US citizen engineers into "aerospace", leaving a void to be filled by imports like me. This process continued, with the imports being less from the UK (as the supply due to the educational boom of the 50s and 60s dried up) and more from other countries, including China. These sources are now drying up, partly because getting work in the US is dicey (see articles about H1-B layoffs, Green Card delays and so on) and these days the salaries and general standard of living isn't quite as advanced as it was 40-50 years ago. This leaves the MIC hurting for employees; its really just like the UK of the 70s and 80s, good jobs for some but you can see the writing on the wall, assuming you're prepared to read it.

      Because, let's face it. The moment these B21s get deployed against (assuming they work) they'll either get destroyed or a salvo of not very stoppable missiles will come right back at us. Nobody wants war but don't assume by that that everyone's going to be easily intimidated (and post-Afghanistan I don't think even lightly armed goat herders are going to be that cowed).

  12. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Coat

    super stealthy ?

    $200bn to build 100 bombers that should rarely if ever be seen, and whose main job is as a deterrent, not to be actually used?

    Build 10, let them be seen 'accidentally' from time to time, and just say you've got 90 more flying around unseen. Presto, $180bn saved...

    1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

      Re: super stealthy ?

      I expect this is what's already being done. However, this is to cover the fact that in reality the planes cost $20bn each to buy and run, rather than the claimed $2bn.

  13. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    “optionally crewed”

    An interesting nugget...

    Included in information offered to the public was the plane’s estimated cost ($700m), engine manufacturer (Pratt & Whitney) and payload (conventional and nuclear). Top speed, ceiling, range were all listed as classified, though the Pentagon allowed that it will be “optionally crewed” and it wants 100 of them.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/dec/03/pentagon-new-strategic-bomber-counter-china

  14. Lordrobot

    John and Joan Wayne... Peace through Nuclear WAR.

    So "W" Bush, and the Brits of course, killed over one million Iraqi in search of Weapons of Mass fabrication. That's a false flag just like the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. In each case the US killed millions. In Vietnam, John Wayne got run out of Vietnam on a rail... and in Iraq, no sooner than the phoney Bush Democracy Mission Acompliced [with the Brits], the Taliban moved in driving their family Hummers.

    But but but...What happened to the B1 Stealth Bomber... Oh that old thing could not carry nukes. They made 45 of those pieces of junk. But now.... here is the B21... The newest microwave popcorn out of Grumman. And at over twice the price of the B! at $666 million a pop... It's a fire sale...

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Please read "Brits" as "Blair"

      Please read "Brits" as "Blair" ("Dubya" is named, rather than USofA).

      That war criminal does not and did not represent me.

    2. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: John and Joan Wayne... Peace through Nuclear WAR.

      1: It's the B2 Stealth Bomber. The B1 was a completely different aircraft;

      2: They made 20 of the B2, not 45.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: John and Joan Wayne... Peace through Nuclear WAR.

        (The B2's primary mission is to open the Rose Parade in Pasadena on January 1st..)

      2. Geez Money

        Re: John and Joan Wayne... Peace through Nuclear WAR.

        Those are actually the least egregious errors in the post though. One million Iraqis being the most egregious.

        I'll just point out that both the B1 and B2 are nuclear certified to do my part.

    3. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: John and Joan Wayne... Peace through Nuclear WAR.

      >killed over one million Iraqi in search

      Most of those were killed in terrorist attacks by other Iraqis

      >Weapons of Mass fabrication

      Stockpiles of chemical weapons were in fact found in underground bunkers.

      >and in Iraq, no sooner than the phoney Bush Democracy Mission Acompliced [with the Brits], the Taliban moved in driving their family Hummers.

      This is false, the Taliban have not taken over Iraq.

  15. Timbo

    Shades of TV detector vans ?

    The US Air Force claim they will get 100 of these B-21's built...and showing off ONE of them (to allow other countries to see what is coming into service int he next few years) is a very good way of deterring some countries for flexing their muscles too much.

    But I doubt the USAF will actually receive 100 planes any time soon...and robably won;t have 100 in service at the same time, given that these will (in theory) be the long term replacment for the B1 and B2.

    Even so, at $692m-752m EACH, they are pretty darned expensive, so I hope we don't see a recurrence of the Boeing 737-MAX flight software problems, leading to loss of the airframe and possibly any flight crew.

    And I wonder if each plane will have big enough fuel tanks to get to (and fly back from) Moscow, Beijing or anywhere else?

    1. Geez Money

      Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

      There are about 100 B1s. I believe the intent is to replace them all. Unless Russia and China disappear tomorrow I'd guess US ends up making well over 100.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

        Geez Money,

        The B1 got used because they had it. But I'm not sure how suitable it was for its eventual role. They're keeping the B52s for the job of carrying unfeasibly large numbers of bombs and being an overhead intelligence asset (with modern comms forward air controllers can actually watch footage from the aircraft above on a tablet so they can designate the correct targets).

        The B21 is way more expensive, but also way more capable in a contested environment. But I think the general idea is that you use a few waves of attacks by stealth aircraft to degrade enemy air defences sufficiently that you can then use your other stuff in relative safety. So while I'm sure they'd always like more, even the USAF have limits to their budget.

        I think the B1 was on the way out anyway due to age. But Congress get upset if a capability is retired, without being replaced. So why not say this replaces it, when really it's a replacement for the B2?

        1. Geez Money

          Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

          The B2 probably gets F117d instead of really retired. The B1 is a pain in the ass at this point that the AF can't wait to get rid of though, and if they had enough other aircraft to cover the role they'd have already done so. If the B2 gets staycationed and the B1 retired then that's about 70 currently active airframes on the way out. The requirements for strategic bombers are currently increasing, seems unlikely to be a small run. Hell, half the point of this was to get a stealth bomber cheap enough to do big runs.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

            Define cheap enough, I guess.

            Volume lowers prices. But the difference between ordering 100 and 150 isn't all that much. Although if you've amortized the cost of the R&D over the first hundred, then that's maybe $50m less on the price of the 101st. Other costs, like tooling, are also already accounted for. But even $600m a pop seems awfully expensive, given that would get you three quarters of a squadron of F35s. Although the operating costs of multiple aircraft are going to be higher than those for just one, even if the B21 has the same issues with coatings the B2 does. But at least the option will exist, while the production lines are open - and ordering a small number of extras can keep those lines open for a while if the production rate isn't too high. I don't know if there's too much regret they didn't make more B2s - but I'm sure the Air Force wish they had a few more F22s.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

              > three quarters of a squadron of F35s

              And how many is that? Neither an American nor a military addict, so to how many does that translate? I feel so reminded how USA is more prone to use strange measurement units than any other country in the world :D.

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

                Jou,

                I was talking about a "standard" squadron of 12. But nowadays it could probably be any number. It's the air force equivalent of an army company, which could be anything from 150 infantry down to 10-11 tanks each with a crew of 3.

                I think you can get a new F35A for under $80m now - although I say "now", if you pay the cheapest price you probably won't get your first delivery for another 5 years at least. Sales volume has gone up, so price has come down, but waiting times are also up.

                I believe that's less than you'd pay for a new Typhoon, Rafale or Gripen - though I think the flight and maintenance costs of F35 might be higher.

                But even if they get a bit cheaper, 2 x B21 is going to get you 15-20 F35As. The F35 can only carry a limited payload and remain stealthy, and will need to use tanker aircraft closer to the target, so it's a lot less suitable for some missions. They do carry a lot of bombs a long way and are very stealthy though - but they really are the luxury item of the multi-million dollar shiny military aircraft market.

            2. Geez Money

              Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

              The B-21 shouldn't have any of the maintenance issues the B2 did. It's using a new RAM that hasn't been announced but is generally believed to be ceramic based and a whole lot tougher (the ceramic RAM project, which is publicly known, has requirements for space operation and reentry even). Ongoing cost is part of cheaper.

              The B2, aside from bad completion timing wet cold war, had the issue that it was too expensive to build enough to amortize R&D costs. This means it never hit its cost criteria and ended up running well over 2 billion current dollars a piece. Then there's the high maintenance costs, the insane shelters that need to be built for it (B-21 is happy to sit mostly wherever), additional training load, etc.

              Generally speaking the R&D cost will be spread over every unit when calculating the cost. That's the main driver behind each round of F35s getting cheaper than the last as new countries come in.

              I'd guess the AF is happy having F35s instead of Raptors at this point btw. The F35 is getting better with each update and the Raptor's software side is a fucking disaster nobody wants to put new capabilities into because some DoD bot insisted on Ada. F35 uses C like a total Chad.

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

                Geez Money,

                I get the impression that the F22 is still absolutely head and shoulders over everything in the pure air superiority role. Even the F35.

                I wasn't aware that they had problems updating it though.

                However I guess a pure air superiority fighter is almost like nuclear weapons, in that you never want to use it. Because if you're forced to use it, you've fucked up and got yourself into a full scale war with a nuclear power with an advanced air force. For everything else, your multirole aircraft are going to be more than good enough. Having it is a nice deterrent though, given the stories you sometimes here from other NATO fighter pilots of doing practice engagements with F22.

                Also F22 doesn't have Link 16. Which is one of the things that makes the F35 so useful. Because even a few F35s mixed in with other forces give you a powerful command & control advantage. As well as intel gathering and electronic warfare. I doubt it's close to being as powerful as the US Navy's EF18 Growlers, but does a lot more than the mostly defensive EW pods that NATO's air forces have tended to field.

                So I can see why they might feel that F35 is good enough. Particularly if the F35 is so good at working with other planes in the strike package, that also ought to make it work really well as a drone commander. Once we've got semi-autonomous combat drones flying around.

                Also once the wankers at Lockheed Martin pull their fingers out so the RAF can get Meteor integrated onto F35 as well. Especially the next version of it, which is going to be able to act as an anti-radiation missile for SEAD/DEAD, but also be an electronic warfare decoy. Added to the extremely long range and throttleable motor it'll be able to play all sorts of silly games. Put Spear 3 on as well, and you've got an aircraft that can do air-to-air or air-to-ground without having to use radar at all. Sneaky-beaky.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Shades of TV detector vans ?

      And I wonder if each plane will have big enough fuel tanks to get to (and fly back from) Moscow, Beijing or anywhere else?

      The B2s almost exclusively live in the USA and get to their targets by using mid-air refueling. The USA has an awful lot of tanker assets scattered around the world.

      I don't know what the range is on internal tanks alone, but modern jets are pretty efficient at high altitudes, and that's where this is probably intented to fly. That is assuming it's still subsonic, like the B2. It's quite a big aircraft, so should have thousands of miles of range. Which is extended yet further, if it's launching missiles with the actual nukes on.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    B22 incoming...

    "The B-21 Raider changes everything"

    Later that day...

    "A B21 was, today, shot down by a country that struggles with reliable electricity.

    Apparently it was detected using a kettle, some farmers twine, tin foil and twiddly nob off of a busted microwave."

    1. Geez Money

      Re: B22 incoming...

      Yes, just look at all the shot down F22s, F35s, B2s, etc. This is exactly how it goes every time. That's why nobody bought the F35 and the fleet is already retired. Also why we all speak Russian.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: B22 incoming...

        A single F117 has been shot down and this proves that all stealth aircraft are bollocks! Well apart from the brilliant new Russian and Chinese ones (that have never been in combat) obviously! They're ace!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "First test flight" in 2023.

    Sounds like we don't have much more in reality than "artist's renderings" at this point, given the American's history with aviation "issues" over the past few years...

    1. Geez Money

      You are aware that the picture in the article isn't a render, right? Lmao. Serial production on the first 6 has already started.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Strangely enough, you've got to finish building it, before you can test fly it. And 2023 is less than a month away.

  18. Plest Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Security? No one bothers anymore.

    A little OT but this morning on my 4am walk I watched 2 ATMs patch and reboot with a full Windows CMD screen showing me exactly what they were doing to the ATM O/S while they patched themselves.

    I have lost all hope for anyone having any idea what security is and I fully expect the full PDF docs of this aircraft on PasteBin in about 36 hours!!

  19. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

    The B1 was just the prototype/clone, and the B21 is finally superseding the Horten Ho 229?

    1. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnrauXbC7yM

      Magical Luftwaffe 46 imaginary aircraft.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

        Sorry, a video of that style survives 2 seconds normally before I click it off. This time I gave it five second since it was a link from a reg reader. Bleh!

        Apart from that: Not imaginary. The prototypes worked and were taken by the US to their home country. And they are still there, though now in the Smithsonian National Air And Space museum, Virginia, eastern USA.

        1. LogicGate Silver badge

          Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

          Two prototypes worked, one of which was an unpowered glider.

          V2 flew, and underwent very limited testing before it crashed, most likely due to engine fumes leaking into the cockpit.

          V3 was captured almost completed, and is now at Dulles. Last time I looked at it, they had still not started restauration.

          While the low wing loading led to higher turn rates than those of the 262, I suspect that low pitch stability would have made it a bad gun platform.

          The what.-ifs make for interesting discussions, but most likely, the aircraft would have been a flop.

          The Horten brothers were innovative, but they were also very good at grifting project funding from friends high up in NSDAP.

          (It must be noted that Willy Messerschmitt also had substantially better connections than, for example, Ernest Heinkel, and he used these ruthlessly, to the detriment of Luftwaffe)

        2. Geez Money

          Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

          Ah yes, heaven forbid you watch a well researched and cited video by an actual credible military analyst who works in British intelligence that proves you wrong. You might learn something and stop being a wehraboo.

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

      Northrop had flying wings before the Horten brothers did.

    3. Geez Money

      Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

      This is actual Nazi propaganda from the 40s that you're repeating. Give your head a shake.

      That shitty Horton plane: 1) wasn't the first design of that shape, and is predated by designs from Northrop itself, 2) couldn't actually fly, every prototype crashed and killed its pilot, Northrop's old flying wing designs were literally already better at the time, 3) the insanely bullshit stealth claims are straight up lies that were made up by Nazis, and the surviving prototype has already been RCS tested to prove it.

      1. LogicGate Silver badge

        Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

        "every prototype crashed and killed its pilot"

        V1 flew without killing it#s pilot. However, it was just a glider.

        V2 flew and crashed, killing it's pilot.

        V3 never flew.

        No need to exaggerate in the other direction.

        The horten brothers flew their first flying wing in 1933, heavily influenced by the designs of Lippisch.

        i believe that Northrop started flying their wing in the 1940. I may be wrong. However neither "invented" the flying wing.

        As for "stealth", The Horten's started speculating about it much later, due to the fact that they had used a charcoal based sandwich core in the wing skin. this was for reasons of "alles kaputt", not doe to radar absorbing properties.

        The Horten / Gö 229 was never a designed for stealth, and the max. one could hope for was a similar stealth as that seen with rthe Mosquito.

        1. Andy Baird

          Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

          "V1 flew without killing it#s pilot. However, it was just a glider."

          V1 was a pulse jet powered unmanned cruise missile (although a few piloted test vehicles were built):

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-1_flying_bomb

          "V2 flew and crashed, killing it's pilot."

          V2 was an umanned ballistic missile. It was never piloted:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-2_rocket

          "V3 never flew."

          True--because V3 was never intended to! It was an unsuccessful long-range cannon buried in the Pas-de-Calais cliffs:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-3_cannon

          You're correct about stealth.

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

            You are mixing up the Ho 229 Version 1, 2 and 3 with the Vergeltungswaffe V1 and V2. Just because "V1" is used does not mean they all refer to those Vergeltungswaffen. Although, some operating system V1 and V2 versions were...

        2. Geez Money

          Re: So they finally understood the Horten Ho 229

          Ok so the unpowered empty one they yeeted into a crash didn't technically kill the pilot. It also isn't a plane if we're apparently being smartasses now. The V2 killed its pilot and we know the V3 would do the same if anyone attempted to fly it. Spare me the both sides routine.

          Also the charcoal was literally alleged to be RAM, care to guess what the RA stand for?

          And yes, the Hortens started talking about stealth and other utter bs to try to get into Operation Paperclip, not before. That's correct but fairly irrelevant tbh. Why are we fishing for irrelevant positive things to say about Nazis? Oh right, I'm dealing with a good people both sides type.

  20. an.other_tech

    Decoys

    Cast your mind back to WW2, when decoys were used as deterrents on both sides.

    So does this perhaps mean that part of the budget will be for set dressing models, and the rest goes on a superior weapon.

    Maybe it's one in space, maybe it has a 'death ray' and a rather enormous satellite looking dish as part of its structure.

    Or.

    The money is going to the moon base project, could be project 'back garden' ;)

    And no one wants to risk hitting the moon with missiles, because a) it takes so long to get there and they can deploy the defence tennis racquet.

    b) the impact on tides and suchlike back on Earth

    Or c) due to a software and communication error, the missiles will miss and hit the passing Vogon shop plunging the Earth into administrative hell.

    Game Over

  21. Anonymous South African Coward
    Facepalm

    and strike targets with or without pilots in its two seats.

    So what will happen should some ne-er-do-well of a country manage to hijack one such plane (fully loaded) and drop a love bomb or two off over pre-selected targets in order to spark an uprising against the USA?

    Think something like Tomorrow Never Dies (007)...

    Or something like that. Or just hijack the plane for its technology alone, make it disappear, then copy the technology at leisure?

    This is why "Superiority" by Arthur C Clarke must be a recommended read for all military thinkers and strategists.

    1. Geez Money

      You genuinely believe you're the first person to think of this, don't you?

  22. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Let's not forget that the US has lost every war it has fought since WW2 despite ever more sophisticated weaponry. None of which, it turns out, is a match for angry men in sandals.

    1. Geez Money

      If the US lost every war after WW2 then so did every other participant lol. The US has less combat deaths in all wars post-Korea than Russia is picking up monthly right now. I'm not even American but that statement is such edgy teen nonsense. I can't think of any wars outside Vietnam where the US failed to make its initial strategic objectives (ie won) either.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Lest we forget and dishonour the fallen ...

      Let's not forget that the US has lost every war it has fought since WW2 despite ever more sophisticated weaponry. None of which, it turns out, is a match for angry men in sandals. .... Ian Johnston

      To seek to engage in a war with a smarter and more numerous opponent, oozing in the essence of Sun Tsu's, The Art of War, is only going to result in a severe drubbing methinks, revealing as it does to any indebted allies, a less than able and viable future executive administration surviving to continue in the absence of advanced intelligence within their rank and file and systems.

      But surely Uncle Sam knows that very obvious fact, for surely he is not deaf, dumb and blind to, and mentally incapable of comprehending that view, and it has been sent to him to have a ponder on and consider alongside other available options.

      Here is some evidence of that undeniable inescapable fact.....

      amanfromMars [2212051559] ...... points out on https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2022/12/4/austin-declares-us-will-prevail-in-decisive-decade

      [Thank you. Your comment will be displayed soon after reviewing.]

      The very sad and crazy bad thing is that so many trying to make a good living in the USA and elsewhere might actually believe all that mad nonsense spouted by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III, with his profound arrogance and naked belligerence on behalf of the USA after his ackowledgement that “The PRC is the only country with both the will, and increasingly the power, to reshape its region and the international order to suit its authoritarian preferences.” followed by a vow which would certainly bankrupt the US economy and destroy the dollar ..."So let me be clear: we will not let that happen”, particularly galling and distressing.

      It's my way/our way, or the highway is textbook NOT THE WAY TO BUSINESS IN SOCIETY ANYWHERE AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE and Uncle Sam has been thoroughly shamed and outed as dishonourable self-centred partner in both competition and opposition. Coming back from that type of disgrace can easily prove both practically and virtually impossible and crushingly and crashingly expensive to boot with orders that root and grow stronger whilst rebuilding trust and bridges for exercise of newly available Future JOINT* Options and Live Operational Virtual Environment Operations.

      It definitely will not happen with the might of the USA administration supporting and paying the price for war in peace which the likes of a Lloyd Austin III Secretary of Defense type entity constantly asks for ...... and that is the enigmatic conundrum and crazy circle one has to square and resolve amicably and equitably for fabulous surprisingly rapid progress.

      *JOINT Operations Internetworking Novel Technologies

      GOD [Global Operating Devices] help and protect us from such crazies and puppeteers and their remotely controlled warmongers.

  23. Ken G Silver badge
    Holmes

    How many more manned warplanes will there be?

    I would have assumed remotely piloted or autonomous would be more suitable, or is this a way of carrying surplus pilots around until retirement?

    1. Geez Money

      Re: How many more manned warplanes will there be?

      The article mentions that it's capable of being remotely flown btw.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: How many more manned warplanes will there be?

      Ken G,

      How many more manned warplanes will there be?

      I don't think anybody knows. That's why you hear about stuff being "optionally manned". So you can have it pilotless on very easy, or very dangerous, missions - if that tech pans out. But fly it when you have to. Which might be all the time. Seeing as we don't yet have the capability to fly such complex systems reliably autonomously - and neither do we want to give full firing authority to the computers.

      If the enemy can block your communications, for example, then your autopilot is completely on its own, and you can't update mission parameters after its taken off.

      One of the things we've learnt about drone-use in Ukraine is that electronic warfare is extemely effective. It's just that it's very patchy. Russia keeps finding that their own EW is screwing up their own systems, just as much as it buggers up Ukraine's. Worse, in the early days of the war they found that their own electronic warfare once turned on, couldn't be turned off. Because unless commanders were physically able to reach the EW units, they couldn't get through to them, to tell them to turn it all off. This speaks to a lack of practice.

      Since even NATO rarely train using our full spectrum of EW, I doubt we're sure how we'd fight under those conditions. One thing that's worked when the EW is turned on is to use cheap drones in dumb mode, where they just fly a pre-planned route, and bring back their footage for analysis. Rather than directing artillery strikes live, which is the much sexier footage the Ukrainians like to post online.

      Plus an aircraft that's expected to last for 30-40 years is going to undergo a lot of changes in use, due to changes in circumstances.

      The next generation of Western fighters are all being designed in tandem with unmanned aircraft. These will fly with them, and act as force-multipliers (and/or sacrificial victims) for the manned fighters. Thus the fighter crew will direct them tactically, but they'll fly themselves. I doubt even these programs know what will come out the other end of them.

      The UK-Italian-Swedish (soon to have Japan joining by the looks of it) Tempest is supposed to be flying by 2030 and replacing Typhoon by the middle of that decade. But Tempest is only a part of the FCAS program, which should be include unmanned aircraft.

      I get the impression the Franco-German-Spanish FCAS program is prioritising the unmanned stuff first, with the idea that some of it might fly with current jets and then the main aircraft will be their replacement for the Rafale and the Typhoon. That's if the French don't sabotage yet another joint European aircraft project, and the Germans and Spanish don't end up fleeing and joining ours. Although both programs may have some drone tech in service first.

      The US future fighter project is doing the same things.

      Of course in reality we already have autonomous firing. The Brimstone missile (some of which we've given to Ukraine) can be targetted with lasers or on coordinates. But can also be told to go and hunt in such and such an area until it sees a tank, then kill it. It has a database of enemy combat vehicles, so you can even select it to only kill artillery pieces. At the moment, in the presence of multiple missiles, later fired ones will delay their attack until they see whether previous shots have destroyed their targets, so they don't all hit the same thing. But the next generation will have full swarming capability, where they can communicate with each other in real time.

  24. tekHedd

    Soft and cuddly stealth bomber?

    I know it's not PC, but I learned it as "Peace through superior firepower." It was up in huge letters on the wall of the research center in college anyway. :) The PC version means the same thing but...when you try that hard to avoid saying something, you just say it that much harder. It's sort of the Streisand effect, but for slogans.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like