Air Force Plans Major Step in Long Range Strike Bomber Program

B-2 and strike eaglesThe Air Force plans to award a contract to build its new bomber to a single vendor by next spring or summer as part of its ongoing effort to engineer a stealthy long range bomber that can evade advanced air defenses, service leaders said Sept. 15 at the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference at National Harbor, Maryland.

“We’re about ready to enter into the next phase of the bomber. We’ve spent the last couple of years refining the requirements and maturing the technology. Within the next year we will down-select to one contractor and then start the heavy lifting of building the first bomber and testing,” Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy for Air Force acquisition, told Military.com in an interview.

The new Long-Range Strike Bomber program, or LRS-B, plans to have new planes in the fleet by the mid-2020s. The Air Force ultimately plans to acquire as many as 80 to 100 new bombers for a price of roughly $550 million per plane, she added.

The Air Force has made the Long Range Strike Bomber one of its top priorities and successfully protected it from the cuts other weapons programs have sustained.

Over the last two to three years, the Air Force has worked closely with industry as part of the research and technology phase of the program. So far, the service has made a $1 billion technology investment in the bomber program as part of an effort to explore the realm of the possible for the aircraft. The new LRS-B is slated to replace the existing fleet of 1980’s-era B-2 stealth bombers.

“We have spent a lot of time understanding what is in the scope of technology. The bomber reflects the need for stealth, the need for speed, the need for agility as well as the value of situational awareness and sensors. We are going to exploit the best of the technology that we can bear within an affordable price,” Pawlikowski added.

Although much of the details of the LRS-B development are not publically available, Air Force leaders have said the aircraft will likely be engineered to fly unmanned and manned missions. Air Force officials also want it to be nuclear capable and have the ability to cross the globe in hours.

“Combining with the weapons that it will carry and the suite that goes with the bomber it will be able to essentially put anywhere in the world at risk within a short period of time,” she said.

The new aircraft will be designed to have global reach, in part by incorporating a large arsenal of long-range weapons. The LRS-B is being engineered to carry existing weapons as well as emerging and future weapons, Pawlikowski explained.

In particular, the aircraft is being engineered to evade increasingly sophisticated air defenses which now use faster processors and sensors to track even stealthy aircraft at longer ranges.

“From the beginning, the Long-Range Strike Bomber has focused on being able to get at those tough targets. It is being designed to be able to take on the most adverse air defenses and be able to penetrate and deliver weapons,” she said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Peter Miles

    Great idea, just hope it goes better than the *cough* F35 *cough*

    • Dfens

      The next great airplane program always is better. That’s the whole premise this scam is built around. And yet, when this program is cancelled before producing a single operational airplane, we will all feel fortunate just as we did every other time a weapons program was cancelled leaving the US taxpayer holding an empty sack.

      • blight_qwerty

        I feel like our principal problem is that our procurement programs are rarely pragmatic.

        Cheyenne going into development hell brought us the Cobra. The Cheyenne being canned brought about a re-compete that led to the AH-64.

        However, I suspect we can no longer rely on pragmatic acquisition decisions.

    • Doug Hatchett

      And the F-22 with its non existent FMC rate and the V-22 with the longest and largest production budget in the history of aviation and lets not forget about the venerable lets change the requirements to meet the produced piece of crap C-17! Odds are there will be replies to My Sarcasm but If You’ve been in Aviation any significant time and actually Spoken to or turned wrenches on the trash we have produced over the last couple of decades You Know It to be TRUE!

      • Mitch S.

        Admittedly I don’t know anyone turning wrenches on them, but I thought the C17 was working pretty well (nothing these days ever achieves the overblown promises it was sold by).
        I recall hearing the success of the C17 was making it tough for Airbus to sell the A400M.

  • Lance

    Well if it goes fast in budget cuts is yet to be seen. I do not like the idea some of these top brass morons to make this bomber a giant drone. We do NOT need unmanned nuclear bombers. Last thing you want is one to go out of order in flight and drop a H-bomb on your own base. Whats next by these idiots want the Skynet funding act?

    • Mitchell Fuller

      Look what the Iranian’s were able to do with our most advanced drone, put it on public display…….

    • Riceball

      Making something an unmanned drone isn’t the same thing as autonomous, a more accurate term would be remotely piloted. Even if this thing next-gen bomber gets unmanned capability it will almost certainly that it’s piloted remotely like an overgrown Predator/Reaper and even if it flies to its target on auto-pilot you can be damned sure that there will be human that pushes the pickle button releasing the bombs.

      • Sev

        And if someone else takes control of the plane, then they can bomb you with it dumba$$

    • tiger

      We do not need a Manned one either.

  • gord

    what? no spaceships?

  • Dave

    So if all goes well we end up with 8-10 bombers at $5.5 billion each.

    • Robbie

      Why not just build a modernized B-2? Use the same extremely stealthy airframe but loaded with up-to-date avionics and engines? Would be far less expensive and risky as we have all the drawings, tools, jigs and residual expertise from the original airframe, so the Air Force could afford to buy a lot more aircraft….

      • Dfens

        There you go thinking again. The problem is, you think the point is for this program to keep the nation safe from enemies when really it is about providing free money to a handful of really rich moral degenerates.

      • batou

        I agree to Robbie – what is this thing with the USAF to keep re-inventing the wheel. A-10 warthog – amazing aircraft: to be retired if the AF has it’s way. The AV-8B Harrier – again, nothing else like it and a tenth of price of a F35 Lemon. F-16 Viper – a proven performer. I could go on but the bottom line is that the current line up of USAF are still at the cutting edge of design and could happily be upgraded. BUT I suspect the usual suspects of the Defense Industry would not be happy with just economically evolving current designs. No extra money to be made in that :-/

        • Ziv

          I look at the Standard Missile family and its development over the years. I think the US has gotten more bang for its buck by expanding the capabilities of the original Standard vs. designing a new missile.
          Which supports Robbies idea that we would be better off modernizing the B-2 rather than building a new clean slate bomber.

      • Greg

        I have said that since this competition first opened up. Why not just build an updated b-2 with the f-35/22 technologies.

        It’s kind of like duh, if you aren’t going faster then why change the design for a new flying wing. Sounds stupid

      • Mark

        Based on information in the article they are looking at a bomber that is far faster than the B-2. They are possibly looking for a Mach 9 class plane capable of 12,000 mile range. Which I have a hard time believing they can do this for $500 million each. Simply updating the B-2 won’t give them this parameter.

        I believe they would be looking for something like this; https://str.llnl.gov/str/Carter.html

        • Dfens

          Wrong.

          • Mark

            Oh Really?

            “Air Force officials also want it to be nuclear capable and have the ability to cross the globe in hours.”

            And

            “Put anywhere in the world at risk in a short period of time”

          • Dfens

            Different program. Why is that so hard to understand?

          • Mark

            The article only covers one program.

          • Dfens

            Yes, it does.

          • Mark

            I quoted from it on the kind of speed they want.

          • Dfens

            It’s a different program. They started about the same time, but they are different programs. They could have probably been combined if the Air Force had wanted to go with a supersonic bomber, but the defense contractors begged them to keep the bomber subsonic. After 20 years without any airplane designers, there was no way the defense industry could design a supersonic bomber that would work.

          • Mark

            Then why is the general quoted saying they want a bomber with speed, be a threat anywhere on Earth and place bombs in a short period of time where the bomber could be anywhere within hours? Speed, short time, and within hours can arguably mean 2 hours.

          • Dfens

            Believe whatever you want to believe. It’s what you’re going to do anyway.

          • guest

            Well, I would think OF COURSE the the contractors wanted them to stay with a subsonic and not supersonic bomber design. That is much cheaper and more COST EFFECTIVE for the contractors, and still allows them to charge us oodles of money for the same plane (basically) with upgraded avionics and software.

        • Guest

          Mach 9 would require sub-orbital altitudes, right? A lot higher than the SR-71, and with a much heavier payload. This will all end in tears (for the taxpayers who are forced to fund this flight of fancy). :(

      • Dylan

        The idea is tempting, but I think it’s far fetched for a couple of reasons. I think we DON’T have the residual expertise for building more bombers without a massive investment. The program at this point is nearing 35 years old- the original engineering team is long-retired. On top of that, this wasn’t a mass-produced plane with a large amount of effort spent on refining the manufacturing process. The examples we have are more akin to hand-built on a large scale versus assembly line products. Maintaining these things is a lot different than building them from scratch, and the skill set doesn’t exist anymore and would have to be cultivated from scratch. With airframe programs, it is typically a loss of your supplier base expertise if the program goes away for a few years, let alone 30+.

        Even getting over the manufacturing hurdles of restarting the program, what you end up with is a subsonic, fragile, maintenance-intensive craft designed to beat 80’s technology. That’s not to say that it isn’t an incredibly powerful tool in our toolbox even today, but 10 years from now, 20 years, 30 years out….that is the timeframe the LRS-B has to live in, and an upgraded B-2 would be an expensive venture that would ultimately only be a stopgap.

        • Riceball

          I agree, you make pretty much the same points that I was going to make. I think that people are forgetting that the lines for the B-2 have been shut down for a good long while now so there’s no real cost savings in trying to build what would amount to an updated B-2. The only savings would be in part of the design phase since you’d already have an existing airframe but that would be it and depending on just how upgraded you want this thing to be you might as well as start from scratch instead of trying to figure out how to shoehorn new components into an existing airframe. You certainly wouldn’t save anything in the construction phase since you’d have to recreate all of the tooling and machining for everything since it’s very likely that little to nothing used to make the B-2s originally still exist.

          • guest

            I seriously doubt that the B-2 ariframe can be optimized for supersonic flight…..no plane designer here, but just a wild guess :-) So now, you ARE talking WHOLE NEW PLANE, PRODUCTION LINE, ETC, ETC…for $550 million a plane…Hahahahaha Okie Dokie :-)

          • guest

            Maybe, JUST MAYBE, we could steal the designs for an upgraded B-2 airframe…….from the Chinese…just a thought…would save a bunch of money ….. Ok, so a little sarcasm never hurt anyone….right? :-)

    • Bernard

      That sounds closer to reality. It certainly won’t be any less than $1 billion a plane.

    • LOL

      8-10 non-working or barely working bombers.

    • guest

      Hahahahaah just as I was thinking….but…how can it be BETTER than the B-2, fly faster, longer, be stealthier, but yet….cost less….Hahahahaha pipe dream from the get go. And anyone even believing this is possible is a nin com poop!! Hahahahaha Just my opinion, but, what do I know about weapons purchasing……..ONLY THAT IT NEVER COMES IN ON BUDGET :-) thats all…….

  • Dfens

    Here we go again. Another 2 decade long development program that will end with few or no aircraft being produced. But this one will be better. We will do it right this time. After all, there is a clear trend — and the defense contractors all hope you are too stupid to figure out what that trend is. So far, only very few have ever disappointed them.

    • Riceball

      It’s not all the defense contractor’s fault, a lot of it has to do with the military constantly changing their minds as the project moves along and adding on capabilities and components as things are being built. What’s the contractor supposed to do about except say, sure, we can do it but it’s going to cost you in both time and money. What the military really needs to do is freeze the design once they’ve decided what they want, once the first X number of production units are built and delivered they can then approach the contractor about building in improvements and making other changes to the design as part of a new design block. That and they really need to take a long hard look at what they want and figure out just how doable what they want is, whether it’s something that’s far from possible, or just about fully mature.

      • blight_qwerty

        Navy-“we want it modular with rapid switch modules”
        Vendors: “Oh whoops…it’ll actually take weeks to switch ’em out”

        Navy/Air Force/Marines: “We want three aircraft with airframes so common they will be almost interchangable on the production line.”
        Vendor: “Surprise, I built something without internal weapons bays!”
        Navy/Air Force/Marines: “Well, I guess interchangeability is toast!”

        • Dfens

          So show me one changed requirement that has cost, oh, let’s not be greedy here, $100,000,000. It should be easy to come up with that one requirement. After all, it’s common knowledge that these damn procurement people who work for the government are changing them all the time and forcing these poor defense contractors to make more money because of it. So come up with just one example. Funny how every time I ask that, no one can produce. We’re all Dan Rather now, aren’t we?

          • Dfens

            Waiting for the response that will never come, as usual.

          • blight_qwerty

            The LCS requirements have never changed. It’s still the same old modular boat that really does take weeks to switch modules, despite what the Navy /thought/ it was getting. Changing the requirements would probably have cost the Navy even more for the LCS. I shudder to imagine paying more money for it.

  • Rat

    So then i assume technology demonstrators are being flown soon. Sweet. I’m betting on no more flying wings,

  • bobbymike

    Trillion dollar defense budget build 300 LSR-Bs, new hypersonic nuke cruise missile, new ICBM, SSBN(X)…………….

  • jason

    Why not upgrade the B2 fleet to a higher standard…wait a sec, Lockheed officials know they can tell their defence department officials what they ‘need to spend their money on’…to optimize their air fleet; namely, a costly replacement, that will balloon in price as development time progresses….if you thought the F35 was expensive! – you ain’t seen nothing yet…

    • Riceball

      Simple, the B-2 production line is closed so upgrading the B-2 is going to be difficult and expensive if you want to do much more than a SLEP. About the best you can do is maybe update its electronics and avionics but that’s about it and that’s also assuming that it can accommodate new electronics and/or avionics.

      • guest

        They have been upgrading the electronics, software and computing systems for the B-2 for the past 20 years now, where have you been??? :-)

  • Bernard

    I think we should wait until drone technology is ready. There is no sense waisting design effort on a half step. Plus our current conflicts show minimal need for this. The chances of us facing a foe with a credible air defense is nearly zero, especially with the current state of globalization and the global economy.

  • JH

    Umm no fly-offs?! Single vendor? Boeing AND Lockheed are working together…

    • Ben

      Means one of two things in my mind:

      1) The DoD hasn’t learned a thing from the F-35 disaster. Orrr

      2) The program is farther along than we know, tech demonstrators have already flown and a winner has already been chosen.

      • simon

        interesting conclusion. yet somehow this makes the most since.

        but now look at this, the f-111
        if they are looking for a replacement for the fighter-bomber.
        base the design on the agility of a fighter. the stealth of a bomber, and the speed of a next gen design.

        now look at the name, there not looking for a new b-2 or b-52. and they’re not looking for a f-18. there looking for something in between. a long range, making it not a fighter, strike, making it not a heavy bomber such as the b-2 and b-52, bomber making it for bombing.

        and what do you get? the LRS-B something that can carry more then 30 bombs, three time that of fighters, can deploy nukes, is fast, “stealth” witch is just so it can go into a country without being detected before it drops its bombs, the speed is fro after its dropped the bombs, and the agility is for when it comes near a fighter, or gets a missile thrown at it.

    • Dfens

      Yeah, and guess who bids on the next bomber program after you cancel this one (just before it starts being built). Gotta love you “not too smart taxpayers”.

    • tiger

      The defense market is strapped. It is not 1950.

  • LOL

    A new round of big spending on “advanced stealth bombers”

    Time for the CIA or the Pentagon to fabricate some stories about ISIS acquiring “advanced anti-stealth radars”, i.e., secret funding to the ISIS to acquire some stuff, props or otherwise … courtesy of American taxpayers, with enthusiasm.

  • Mouse C Tung

    Next question: how to detect large bombers without radar. It is so obvious why did I think of it? Optically targeting pressure wave, ionization or spectral emissions analysis, all of this has to be possible with advanced sensors and processors and could render this type of radar specific stealth aircraft as meaningless and vulnerable as the –obviously obsolete in a future major power high tech conflict– Aircraft Carrier!! Fighting the last wars with tomorrow’s dollars today, our US of A!

    • tiger

      Never heard of a eyeball? Cheap & everybody has one….

      • sed

        No.

    • blight_qwerty

      “Optically targeting pressure wave, ionization or spectral emissions analysis”

      Let me modify that deflector dish for you…Star Trek style.

  • Dave

    The B2 is the biggest boon doggle out there. It is used very little and stealth is all but obsolete. All the B2 does is hold down concrete and the operating cost is insane. To replace them with another boon doggle is just stupid. So far all these new and advanced planes have done little to nothing in combat. It’s the B1 knocking down doors and kicking ass.

    • Dfens

      The B-2 spends most of it’s time “holding down concrete” because of the maintenance on the signature reducing coatings. They are fragile and will compromise an otherwise stealthy shape. I was lobbying for the new bomber to be Mach 3+ capable and to hell with coatings, shape stealth only. That way it would be reliable like the B-1, but more stealthy, and able to penetrate the air defenses of large potential conflict nations such as China and Russia. They’d be in and out before they could react. Plus a Mach 3 bomber is bad ass. You don’t even have to use one to make other nations think twice about f’ing with you.

      • 45CalGladiator

        Yeah that would be pretty bad ass!

      • thommy t.

        Yeah that’d be bada$$

      • guest

        Does anyone remember the actual REASONING for the need for the B-2? It was supposed to sweep across the Soviet Union ( nont smaller Russia) and find, then destroy, mobile missiles!! hahahahaha Irag is about, what, maybe one tenth the size of the old Soviet Union, and look how well it accomplished that! Oh wait, it DIDN’T..hahahahaha WOW…how soon we forget the outrageous claims of some of these defense contractors. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the BEST DEFENSE we can buy, as long as it is minimally cost effective, and…….realistic in its goals. :-0

  • rat

    So many trolls, so few brains

    • erik_bergen

      Yep. These commenters are absolutely ignorant of defense aerospace realities. In this alternate reality, all the major players in the world are betting on VLO, when these trolls all “know that stealth is obsolete”. Laughable idiots.

  • Nick987654

    It SHOULD be designed with a next generation variable cycle engine compatible with the F-35. A strictly subsonic airframe would be as slow as the 30 year old B-2. A cupercruise speed of mach 1.25 would be very feasable and would help for deep penetration.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they had not disclosed more official details about the plane because they want everyone to believe it will be nothing more than a subsonic flying wing.

    • Dfens

      Mach 1.25 has all the down sides of designing for supersonic speeds with few of the advantages. Transonic cruise (between M0.95 and M1.1) has some big advantages, but then if you’re going to go supersonic you might as well aim for M2.4 (like Concorde) for an aluminum airplane or M3+ for one built out of titanium or steel (like the SR-71).

      • Nick987654

        Around mach 1, drag becomes huge.

        I am rather under the impression that what becomes significantly less cost effective is speeds of mach 1.7+, where the plane absolutely needs to use the afterburner, and the RAM coating start having problems. The stress on the airframes also becomes greater.

        Also a bomber will have a fat fuselage because of the large bays, that will have a detrimental effect on supersonic speed, unless one choses a long design with variable wings and probably 4 engines. ( i.e. B-1 ) which is very expensive.

        The LRS-B could be capable of cruising above the transonic regime for reduced drag ( around mach 1.25 ) with its bombs, mach 1.35 supercruise when the bombs have been dropped, and a top speed on afterburner of around Mach 1.7-1.8. It would use its afterburner unless absolutely necessary. And it would do its transcontinental flight in subsonic to spare fuel.

        That kind of speed seems to be the sweet spot in terms of cost-effectiveness. It would certainly be possible with variable cycle engines.

        • Mark

          They appear to want a Mach 9 class plane capable of 12,000 mile range.

        • Dfens

          Ever heard of Boeing’s Sonic Cruiser concept airplane? A lot of what you’ve heard is not really wrong, but it’s not the whole story either. There’s nothing magic about M1.7. It’s where the F-22’s engine runs out of thrust in mil power. The Concorde went M2+. It flew a temperature profile that kept the leading edges of the wings from melting, and it flew in afterburner all the time. With today’s engines you wouldn’t have to do that. The SR-71 was made of titanium which would take more heat and at M3 ramjets just start to be effective, so it had an engine that would operate in subsonic, afterburner, and ramjet mode. The compression ratio for a ramjet doesn’t really become efficient until about M5, so if we made something that didn’t exceed M5 we might go a different way today.

  • DBW*^

    And of course we’ll still have the B-52 for the heavy work!

  • jstevensjr

    I have to wonder why, when the technology for precision targeting already exists, we would ever build another manned bomber aircraft. Could it possibly be because the Air Force is and always has been run primarily by pilots?

    All of the money we are spending to develop the requirements for, design, and produce a manned bomber should instead be spent on all of the technologies needed for unmanned, hypersonic long range precision weapons.

    • Riceball

      It’s because remotely piloted plane technology is still in its infancy. we’re still pretty new to this sort of thing. I think that it will be another generation or 2 before we see large scale usage of remotely piloted combat aircraft. There are still issues with signal latency, interference (man made or natural), potential for hacking, bandwidth limitations, and other issues that makes making a large remotely piloted combat aircraft and expensive and dubious proposition. It’s one thing to have something as cheap as a Predator/Reaper be remote controlled, it’s something else to trust a multi-million dollar bomber to remote controlled technology esp. if it’s expected to penetrate enemy airspace.

      • jstevensjr

        Riceball– I understand and agree with all of your concerns. However, I was not advocating unmanned penetration bombers. I am sure that there will be a role for those for at least another generation of aircraft.

        What I am advocating is the use of unmanned bombers in a permissive air environment such as we have mostly enjoyed for the last 30 or more years in most of the places we have had to fight, with the exception of the initial attack. I am advocating the use of long range precision munitions in general and hypersonic precision munitions in non-permissive environments where anti-aircraft systems have not yet been taken down.

        Additionally, one of the biggest cost drivers, as I understand it, for manned aircraft is the fact that the aircraft is manned and therefor requires pressurization, temperature control, and a breathable atmosphere, in addition to the space and weight considerations imposed by a human pilot, on-board visible instrumentation and control systems, and so forth.

        I agree that it would make little sense at this time to place at risk a current generation bomber such as the B-2 by attempting to remotely pilot the aircraft.

        On the other hand, a hypersonic “bus” carrying independently targeted smart munitions would not require anywhere near the same scope of sensor systems, countermeasure systems, stealth measures other than radar cross -section, environmental controls, and so forth required of a manned aircraft. The fact that the vehicle could be moving at speeds well in excess of Mach 10 would defeat most current ground-based countermeasures. Add to that the fact that at those speeds, guided kinetic warheads would further reduce the volume and weight the bus has to carry, further reducing cost and vulnerability.

        Finally, with the exception of the hypersonic propulsion and guidance systems, which at least publicly are still in early development, most of the technology already has been developed and fielded in support of terminal guidance and penetration aids for ballistic reentry vehicles.

  • Big-Dean

    Lockhead is going to get this new contract and each new bomber will only cost $85 Billion and only take 20 years to build, and it’ll be the most awesome bomber ever (it’ll even have it’s own highly advance espresso machine)

    And anyone who disagrees is an idiot and knows nothing about how “advanced” and awesome this new bomber will be (sarc)

    • Dfens

      We will let Lockheed work on it for 20 years pulling in a 10% profit on the billions of dollars they spend for all those years and then cancel it right before they build a single operational airplane — because that will show them, won’t it, Dean? It will show them yet again how stupid we really are.

  • Barry

    80-100 planes, flying, in the fleet, in 10 years, @$550M per unit.

    SCIENCE FICTION

    They’ll be lucky if they’ve started their flight test program by then.

    • Dfens

      We will be paying Lockheed extra to drag out development for another decade or two, so guess what they’ll do? Here’s a thought, if you don’t want the program to take forever, don’t pay them extra to drag it out. Just me, thinking…

  • SAC Crewdog

    A new nuke-capable bomber? What’s it going to carry; we haven’t been allowed to even test the warheads we have now for reliability, nor are we being allowed to develop anything new. Funding, you know. On the other hand, a new bomber would necessarily incorporate parts from many, many congressional districts.

  • BuckRogers1

    Perhaps it is time to design the bomber without bombs and just make it the local command and control vehicle that have people in them that can see and make local decisions. It could be small and fast and high altitude. The normal weight attributed to bombs would go fuel for longer time on target. The BWB would fly with a dozen stealthy Swarming Flying wing ordinance mules, most of which could be added while in bound to a target and could come from multiple points of origination, programmed to only talk to a specific BWB and if contact is lost would return to a specific location and land. Most of the Flying ordinance mules would carry bombs only or they actually be the bomb, some would carry ECM and some would be low cost bait that become “highly observable” to distract any ground-to-air launch missle.

  • William_C1

    To everybody saying “build more B-2s” that option has passed. The production line is long closed. All of the subcontractors for the countless internal parts have moved on. Yes in theory you could recreate all of that but in practice it isn’t going to cost much less. You also have to update it to account for the last 20+ years of technological development.

    The comments about “the need for speed” has me wondering if they want a supersonic design versus a subsonic design the previous “2018 Bomber” program seemed to favor.

    I don’t understand the need for a strategic bomber to be “optionally manned”, doesn’t seem like a capability that would have much use outside in such an important asset.

    • Mitch S.

      They won’t fly nukes without a man in the roosterpit.
      (ya know, the place the pilot does his job that can’t be mentioned on this site!)

    • blight_qwerty

      If we want drones to fly one way suicide missions, just attach ALCM’s to the LRB and fire from well outside enemy territory.

      I am unsure why speed is part of the requirements…sonic boom and an IRST glow is not the way to be stealthy.

      • Dfens

        Have you ever tried to see an airplane that just hit you with a sonic boom? There’s a reason you were not successful.

        • Dave Herman

          Sonic boom followed closely by destructive boom.

          • Dfens

            Ha, ha, ha, and even if it isn’t you still shit your shorts hoping you’re not taking your last God forsaken breath on this earth.

  • Mark

    How about removing the sonic boom and lowering the IRST glow.