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A meeting in Washington a few weeks ago, organized by the Center for a New American Security, brought together think-tankers, analysts and journalists to talk about the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), an $80-billion-plus project to be awarded soon to either a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team or Northrop Grumman.
The consensus was that there was no consensus, with a remarkable spread of opinions as to the most basic features of LRS-B—the requirements that will determine the project’s cost and schedule, largely irrespective of the targets set for public consumption.
But it’s possible to take an informed guess, starting with one fact: The LRS-B requirement emerged after its precursor, the Next Generation Bomber (NGB), had been canceled as too risky and expensive.
Bomber design starts with weapon load. It would be hard to justify a B-2-like 50,000-lb. payload today. Even in the 1980s, a mission that would involve 16 nuclear weapons was hard to imagine: the B-2’s weapon bays were designed around conventional missions. But at the time, guided bombs were expensive and required external designation; today, fire-and-forget guided weapons are commodities. There will be B-2s to deliver the 30,000-lb. Massive Ordnance Penetrator until nearly 2050, and work on lighter alternatives is already underway.
originally posted by: anzha
While both designs are very mature, neither has flown according to the sources: just wind tunnel and signature model work.