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What is happening to our bombers?

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posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 07:13 AM
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For many years, long range bombers were the backbone of the US Airforce's strike force. Heavy bombers like the B-52, B-1 and B-2 were costom design to hit startegic targets. Now, at a time where we have more wars then ever they're replacing bombers with small fighter that can carry 1 or 2 bombs. WHY?

Tim




posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 07:53 AM
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Uh... the B1s and B2s are still pulling tons of missions man. Tons. I think the smaller fighters just get the media attention, and they may be more well know and recognized. I dont know. I never noticed that before.



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 10:01 AM
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The B-52 will be around for a couple of decades.
The problem is that more and more missions will be taken over by newer fighter-bombers & UAV's etc...



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 10:09 AM
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if we can do the same strategic bombing with say a flight of 6 fighters much cheaper and safer, wouldn't it only make sense? and as milk said, our strategic bombers are still being widely used. plus, like ZM said, a lot of stuff is being handed over to capable UAV's.

also, they were the backbone during the cold war era, when we needed to have those things aloft for so long and be able to take a lot of damage and still arrive to deliver a payload. try getting an f-18 to stay up for 12 hours or more. it ain't gonna happen. not without a #load of arial refuelings, and i think that that would be damned near impossible in a combat situation.



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 10:24 AM
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No one has really touched on this reason, so I will take it upon myself.

The reason that we can do the same mission with smaller bombers/smaller bombs is due to the increase in accuracy of our bombs. With the choice of GPS, IR, LASER, EO, etc; you no longer have to dozens of bombs to hit a single target.

Hooray for technology!



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 11:29 AM
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Originally posted by ghost
For many years, long range bombers were the backbone of the US Airforce's strike force. Heavy bombers like the B-52, B-1 and B-2 were costom design to hit startegic targets. Now, at a time where we have more wars then ever they're replacing bombers with small fighter that can carry 1 or 2 bombs. WHY?


The increased accuracy of air to ground ordinance has changed the way air strikes are conducted. Gone are the days of saturation bombing with dumb bombs, which is what the B-52 was designed to do in conventional (non-strategic) warfare. Nowadays the B-2 bomber can make a single pass over an "area of interest" and hit 80+ targets with guided munitions with an overall accuracy ratio of +/- 2 meters. (which makes no difference when dealing with 500+ lbs of HE)

It is however very infrequent that you have 80 targets sitting in an area waiting to get taken out by a heavy bomber so you have attack craft such as F-22 and/or F-35 to carry out that roll. There are also plans to make a medium bomber out of a delta winged F-22 variant.

But even with the increased accuracy of munitions and the use of lighter strike aircraft carrying out bombing the use of heavy bombers is still necessary, to that end we still have the B-52, B1 and B-2.

The Boeing B-52 heavy bomber was developed in 1946, put into production in 1955 and now expected to have a serviceable lifespan to 2040 and possibly beyond.
(ref.: "A Hybrid Approach to Obsolescence", USAF White PaperMaxwell AFB, pp.1)

The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber has an expected life cycle expected to go well beyond 2030.
(ref.: "1994 Defense Authorization Act: The B-2 Bomber" Center for Defense Information, Washington, DC)

The B-1 Bomber force size is actually being reduced under the Bush administration, by consolidating those that are in the best shape and canibalising off those in the worst shape, thus saving money on replacement parts and repairs. The expected lifespan of the B-1 bombers in current inventory is also expected to go beyond 2030.
(ref.: USAF "White Paper on Long Range Bombers", 1999)

According to the USAF Quadrennial Defense Review, a roadmap has been established that specifies a division of labor among the available bombers, with the newer B-2 assigned critical penetration tasks in medium to high risk environments, the B-1 assigned similar roles in low to medium risk scenarios, and the B-52 reserved for low-risk penetration and standoff cruise-missile missions.

The plan states that by the end of 2004, 130 units of the current bomber inventory be combat-coded, with the remainder set aside for training (24 aircraft), backup (20), attrition reserve (14), and testing (2).
(ref.: "National Defense; July/August, 1999 ", A Defense paper submitted by the Lexington Institute.)

The Future - closer than originally planned:
Additionally there is already a development underway for a new long range bomber and the roadmap established by D. Rumsfeld for actual production has been moved up from the mid-2020's as indicated by the 1999 Bomber Roadmap and the USAF "White Paper on Long Range Bombers", to a much sooner production period somewhere between 2010 and 2015. The big 3 US aerospace giants are gearing up for competition in this arena
right now;
see Intelgurl's (that's me) post on the current status of the USAF's Long Range Strike project.

Link:
B-3: Long Range Strike Aircraft









[Edited on 23-3-2004 by intelgurl]



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 11:46 AM
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Another reason that heavy bombers are not going to disappear anytime soon: the new capabilities of US long range strategic bombers allow them to attack distant targets without requiring the bombers themselves be forward-deployed. An example is Operation: Allied Force. B2 Spirits were flying missions nonstop to Kosovo from Missouri and back. Combine that range with low-observability and 40,000 pounds of precision guided munitions and you have a formitable platform that will be in use for a long time. The B1-B is older technology but still has massive payload capacity, low RCS, and is supersonic.

My favorite military aviation one-liner, "Fighter pilots make movies, bomber pilots make history."

[Edited on 23-3-2004 by Spectre]



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 12:23 PM
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Bizarre. Intelgurl, none of your links are working on my browser. Maybe it's jacking around again.

Anyway, good info on those bombers!
And I'd agree there is a definite USAF interest in stealthy supersonic / hypersonic long range bombers. This brings to mind that Popular Mechanics article I read a few months back.

Battle of the X-Planes

(I'm sure everybody and their dog's seen this one!)

US Air Force Plans for Future War in Space

[Edited on 23-3-2004 by Lampyridae]



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 05:44 PM
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Originally posted by Lampyridae
Bizarre. Intelgurl, none of your links are working on my browser. Maybe it's jacking around again.

Sorry... i got them working...
such is the case when you're trying to work and play at the same time...



posted on Mar, 23 2004 @ 11:21 PM
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We still have the B-1B's and B-2A's. Not to mention the B-52H models still fly. Then we have our attackers.

So, another question to ask is that our only remaining bomber arsenal? Remember the fact that there are deffinately aircrafts the U.S. Government is not bothering to tell you about. Whether or not they will be unmasked soon.

Only time will tell.



posted on Mar, 25 2004 @ 03:59 AM
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Originally posted by Shugo
We still have the B-1B's and B-2A's. Not to mention the B-52H models still fly. Then we have our attackers.

So, another question to ask is that our only remaining bomber arsenal? Remember the fact that there are deffinately aircrafts the U.S. Government is not bothering to tell you about. Whether or not they will be unmasked soon.

Only time will tell.


I think the point here is one that has been already highlighted very succinctly by intelgirl.

The need for long range strategic bombers emerged at the start of the second world war and the Bomber went through many evolutions to reach its peak with the development of the B-2A.
However, with the advent of precision munitions and stealth capabilities, we no longer need the random element of carpet bombing. The accuracy of this delivery method is questionable and the worlds media and populace in general is now so intolerant of collateral damage that the governments of the world would tend to shy away.
The other driving force behind the development of the bomber since the late forties has been the delivery of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. But now, with advanced missile development, the need for a delivery platform such as a long range bomber has all but been negated.
The crux of the argument is necessity. Nobody is willing to spend billlions of dollars in developing a weapons platform which has no strategic value, better to spend the money on something that will actually be used. But what about all the strikes that the B2 has been publicly credited with ? Kosovo, Iraq etc ? well it didnt once take up a mission that a cruise missile or a smaller, fighter bomber couldnt have completed with the same accuracy.
My personal opinion is that they were used for, and credited with these strikes to say to the American people, Look, your tax dollars weren't wasted and this thing isnt really a billion dollar white elephant

Still, the B2 does look lovely at airshows !





posted on Mar, 25 2004 @ 04:14 AM
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Well, just a minor thought of information there.

It's just a notification we don't just have the little itty bitty F-22 and F-117 Bomber Fighters.

Still we have our attackers.



posted on Mar, 26 2004 @ 09:13 AM
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"Another reason that heavy bombers are not going to disappear anytime soon: the new capabilities of US long range strategic bombers allow them to attack distant targets without requiring the bombers themselves be forward-deployed. An example is Operation: Allied Force. B2 Spirits were flying missions nonstop to Kosovo from Missouri and back. Combine that range with low-observability and 40,000 pounds of precision guided munitions and you have a formitable platform that will be in use for a long time. The B1-B is older technology but still has massive payload capacity, low RCS, and is supersonic."


Hey! It's even older than that! During Desert Storm I, we flew B-52G's out of Barksdale AFB LA to launch the first conventional air launched cruise missiles. They were the first strike A/C launched in the operation! 34.7 hours round-trip with 7 air refuelings. They were highly effective-you'll just have to trust me on that.

BTW, as to the "White Elephant" business, you could convert a DC-3 to a very effective bomber if

a. you are dropping precision guided munitions

b. you have established aerospace dominance

The weapons platform isn't the key element.



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 12:30 PM
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With most conflicts today moving into urban area (ie baghdad etc.) the need for saturation (carpet) bombing is diminishing because of need to reduce collateral damage, given, you can hit many targets with a b-52 as opposed to an f-18, an f-18 isnt a big bird in the sky that practically has a sign that says shoot me down, im a big lumbering hulk, to enemy stinger troopers an f-18 is also cheaper to produce, can defend itself in ata (air-to-air) combat and is more manuverable not to mention faster, and if an f-18 gets shot down, you only have to rescue 1 pilot lot like 5-7 pilots (i forget how many crewmen are in a b-52) plus, heavy straegic bombers, designed to drop multiple nuclear warheads to drop on the heads of the commies, are huge gas guzzlers. As some of these bombers age, it eats up american tax dollars just to maintain them. With an f-18, if you run out of targets to bomb, you dont have to just ground it, just go ata (just ignore men if i go too far off topic please)
On the ground, a b-52 is a better target to enemy bombers than an f-18 im gonna end it there



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 12:41 PM
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Originally posted by ghost
For many years, long range bombers were the backbone of the US Airforce's strike force. Heavy bombers like the B-52, B-1 and B-2 were costom design to hit startegic targets. Now, at a time where we have more wars then ever they're replacing bombers with small fighter that can carry 1 or 2 bombs. WHY?

Tim


Because actual 1 or 2 bombs have an equal devastation power than 10 or 100 bombs from sixties or seventies.
Because geopolitic situation have changed since cold war end. Now the goal of a war is to conquer, not to destroy.
See ?



posted on Mar, 28 2004 @ 02:09 PM
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The "strategic" bomber thing is, if you dive into the history books, just a by-product of the Industrial Revolution. In the old day of the small, professional militaries, armies would basically march out to meet each other. The one that one the battle achieved the political upperhand, and the Swiss would yet again prove that they were hard nuts and everybody would go home. This is more or less pre-Napoleonic era. Come the Boer War, World War I and World War II, you have entire economies devoted to a war. You can argue all sorts of reasons for this - it's economic, it's a way of generating, it's social, it's political, blah blah blah. Countires go all out to beat the living daylights out of one another, particularly in WWII. The idea back then is that the factories are what drive the war... production, production, production! Problem is, you can hit precision targets, even back then, with no fancy guidance systems. You use air to ground rockets, cannon and dive bombers. Dive bombers did the damage at Midway. Look at the Battle of Britain: why did Germany lose? They switched to bombing the cities instead of the airfields. That single reason, more than the grit of the British airmen and the use of radar, handed Winston "we will fight them on the beaches" Churchill victory. That, and cracking the Enigma code.

Come the Cold War, and we now have the same situation on a much larger scale. Again it's a battle of economies. Except now the offensive technologies have gotten completely out of hand... the United States' nuclear ace is leaked faster than a sieve. For a while, nuclear war is feasible, then it becomes a case of Mutually Assured Destruction. As that nutter General Curtis LeMay said, "if there are two Americans and one Russian left, we win." At least I think he said that, might have been General Powers, who was slightly more nuts. Both nutcases were head of Strategic Air Command roundabout the 1960s. Sometimes I wonder how we lot ever managed to get born under such circumstances. Anyway, the main purpose of a strategic bomber was to ensure a second-strike precision capability, to take out the enemy's hidden second strike reserves - the hardened bunkers, the mobile launchers and suchlike.

Throughout history the winning strategies have been the same: cut off the enemy's supply lines, communications, lower their morale and then squash them. It's only now that militaries are again learning the art of war - in other words, to be a sneaky git and ignore ideology.



posted on Mar, 30 2004 @ 01:00 AM
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US strategic bombing strategy was perverted by the experiences of WW-II and the USA doctrinal thinking on this has been retarded by the crushing pressure of the cold war.

The USA was ill prepared for WW-II and it was realised early that between next to no standing army and insufficent shipping construction plus the need to crush the Nazie UBoat threat, first...the only way for the USA to strategically participate in WW-II was long range bombing. Clearly the USA admin also had there sights on Stalin as well . Additionally these short comings also led to concentrating on stoping the Japanese first as this was doable in the short term with the remains of there navy. In truth this was also the more immediate threat.

But given a hugh industrial effort all these short comings were over come and by 1943/44 the US war machine was able to mass produce the invasion machine it felt it needed to win the war in Europe.

The allied strategic bombing campaign taught the USA that it was not as easy as it looked and many of the effects of their efforts were not clearly seen until after the war. The most important impact was the crushing of the german fuel industry which put an end to any strategic german mechanized capability. Despite the fact that only 1% of the bombs dropped actually hit the oil targets , within a matter of two months the entire german fuel industry was crippled. Along the way they had to shoot the luftwaffe out of the sky and also participated in a campaign of industry attacks that did slow german war efforts [reduced atleast 1/3 of the out put to the end of the war].

Tactical the other most important lesson was the paralizing of the german field forces under the allied airsuperiority. This prevented german air power from interfering with your force , while your air power can be consentrated on supporting your own troops in battle. Combined the conclustion was that , while having airsuperiorty didn't guarrente victory, it was difficult to win without this tactical and strategic air superiority.

Over the following decades the USA modified their experiences to focusing on technology to multiply the efficency of the airforces to accelerate the rate of destruction of the enemy forces/industry.Clear if they had been worried about dealing with the Nazie , the soviets might be impossible to subdue this way. Nuclear weapons were combined with Senors and missiles technology for air dominance and delivery....then bombing precision was addressed, reducing the need for nuclear weapons .

The increasing miniturization of computers lead to much better air to air missilery thus allowing airsuperiority to contemplated , although thich soviet airdefence was becoming increasingly more and more difficult to overcome . Through ECM , ARMs and eventually stealth, the ability to dismember the enemies airdefence network was created and perfected.This opened the door to air dominance which basically allows you to use all aspects of air power almost from the start to defeat the enemy country in detail [ IE airmobility , spying & survalliance ; interdiction and ground attack etc].

One nagging problem still needs to be dealt with is targeting.While the USAF excels at precisly dropping bombs on the target they aimed at, the bulk of the time these targets are decoys or just the wrong target. Great strides are needed here to descriminate between fake and real targets in a realistic manner for the air fleet in general.

There is an upside and down side to all this. The USA has become dangerously dependant on technology to solve its warfare problems and the approach has generated the notion that wars can be fought with little or no casulties to your own side. Wars cannot be won from the air , sooner or later the war has to envolve boots on the ground to ultimately settle the battle.

Another down side is that this 'system' of war has become absurdly expensive and may eventually be pricing themselves out of the market ,so to speak. Not only are the weapon systems becoming absurdly expensive but the cost of repairing the damage is still more than the war which is by defination increasing too. While surgical strikes are supposed to limit damage, this does not take into account the cost of poor targeting.

Thirdly the increasing centralisation of the targeting leads to political micromanagment of the war effort as seen in Vietnam and this most resent war. And this increasing politization of the war can have a backlash effect, since the sanitization of the war exposes public around the world to every success and failure.

If one was to characterise USA air doctrine it would be to use the biggest sledge hammer one can find to destroy as many targets as possible, in the hopes that atleast one of the blows kills the target.



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