Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Simplest, Gold-Plated Plane

I love the contradictions in this one piece on the next USAF bomber.  They want it to be a simpler, less expensive plane, seemingly learning the lessons from previous planes--the incredibly expensive B-2 bomber in particular:
“We are going to make our best effort to not over-design the aircraft,” says Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. “We are intent on ordering a capability that is not extravagant.”
Wow, sounds great.  But then what do they want the plane to have?
  • stealth (which is expensive, since it requires special skin that helps to evade radar and more);
  • "capable of intelligence gathering, conducting electronic warfare and linking to offboard sensors"
  • "non-kinetic weaponry, including high-power microwave weapons, lasers and electronic attack."
  • "large magazine, which means small or repeating weapons, long-range radar and the ability to judge the effects of electronic attacks." [Won't the long-range radar make the plane easier to find since radar is the sending of signals to bounce off of stuff?  I am no expert here so correct me if I am wrong.]
  • "at least some supersonic dash speed"
Ok, so that is a pretty minimal, stripped down order for a cheap plane, right?  Of course not.  It is early in the process so maybe someone will decide that tradeoffs must be confronted and the plane may end being fast but not so stealthy or stealthy but not so great at electronic warfare, etc.

All I can think of this: more things change, the more they stay the same.

1 comment:

SamStanton said...

Radar does not work in "off" mode. But you are right, when working on tracking stealth aircraft the electronic noise was always the way to find them, and radar is essentially and electronic wave traveling through the atmosphere.