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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Next Generation Strike Bomber

On show at the Air Force Association convention: Boeing's model of the Next Generation Bomber.

The NGB program got a strong boost here from USAF chief of staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. "It's very important. We face increasingly lethal and difficult threats, and it's a vital program. We're going to make a strong, fact-based argument for the NGB as we move into the spring and summer of 2009," Schwartz said, indicating that it will be a high priority as the USAF prepares for the next quadrennial defense review (QDR), due in early 2010.

Boeing's blended-wing-body design is "not a cartoon, it's representative of what we're doing," according to Boeing Advanced Systems president Darryl Davis.

The new design is very different from Northrop Grumman's studies, with a large diamond-shaped centerbody mated to long, slender wings. Davis dropped some hints, too, about Phantom Works research into laminar flow control. Some way of keeping the airflow over the upper surface smooth would make an enormous difference to the drag of the body, while the outer wings are slender enough to sustain laminar flow naturally, like a sailplane.

B-3 Long Range Strike Platform

Boeing has developed several different concepts to challenge Northrop-Grumman in case a 2015 low-cost bomber program is launched eliminating futuristic tech such as hypersonics:

1) The most unorthodox thinking has gone into developing a commercially derived bomber. One concept is based on Boeing's 767. To meet low-observability, engines are moved into the aft portion of the fuselage with the inlet on top. The vertical tail would be replaced with V-tail. RAM would be applied to the outer fuselage to achieve stealth performance

2) The second commercial derivative centers on the BWB which the company hopes to have launched by 2015. The main changes would be the weapons bays in the aircraft's center section and the application of RAM materials

3) A pure military concept looks similar to the B-2

4) A second military candidate builds on Boeing's DARPA UCAV program but substancially larger. It would be a single-engine system able to carry 50,000 -75,000 lb of ordenance internally. Aircraft's weight would be about 240,000 lb

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