reply to post by Shugo
It really kind of depends upon the application. There are special commands (which have been getting a lot more attention lately - Naval Special
Warfare Development Group has grown immensely over the past six years) that are the "black projects." They build few-of-a-kind systems that rarely
ever see real production. For example - they take a Predator drone and modify the living hell out of it to get it to do what they need it to do - or
take an airframe that is in the prototype/concept stage with a defense contractor and pay them to make a few (then modify the hell out of them).
The idea is, honestly, to have 'ninjas' - in a sense. Rather than try and beat back the hordes of T-72s and Su-27s, we simply tweak the climate in
our favor. Our special forces guys are deployed a -lot- more than you will ever hear about. They are usually 'gone' more than 200 days out of the
year - every single one of those deployments classified. It could be operations such as recovering an informant whose cover got blown, sabotage,
espionage, or assassinations.
While that may sound a bit objectionable to some - many would agree that people like Hitler are better off six feet under. In either case - the idea
is to use covert resources to undermine war efforts and capability - if not preventing a war or conflict all together. (Though I am sure some here
would go the other direction and say that they could be used to instigate warfare - which is a leap of logic I'm not going to debate).
As for the B-1 - that's not necessarily the case. Remember - cost-effectiveness is what we are looking for in terms of your 'grunt' military. The
B-1 suffers from the fact that it is a rather complex variable geometry airframe. I am not sure if the airframes are costing nearly as much as the
B-52 to maintain, in terms of parts, they are likely making up for it in man-hour requirements and a lower mission ready status.
For example - we've got one bird down right now for inspections that have been going on for a while. The Air Framers are taking their sweet time
with the thing. We've got another one that is having problems - one of the engines/props won't de-feather and restart once airborne (Both are
C-130s) - which is part of the Op-check. So far, everyone is still scratching their heads as to what the problem could be - and the plane isn't
mission-ready until that engine can be fixed.
The more moving parts, the more nuts and bolts have to be turned, and the more safety wire consumed (longest part of pretty much any re-assembly
procedure - trying to safety-wire stuff at impossible angles and tight spaces) - the more man-hours get chewed up and the more expensive everything
The B-1 has a lot of things that can break.
It also has a lot of things it can do that the B-52 cannot. But it's not really all that great of a replacement for the B-52, which is basically
placed into a high orbital flight pattern to drop JDAM-on-demand in support of ground forces. The B-1 is something you send into higher threat
environments, capitalizing on its terrain following radar, high-adrenaline engines, and tactical considerations built into the airframe. It's the
big brother to the F/B-111 - in terms of combat role (don't believe the two are even remotely related in terms of origins).
I hope that kind of clarifies.