From the Department of the Blindingly Obvious:
Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne told Dow Jones Newswires that the Pentagon needs to “get on with the getting on” of a new bomber program. Unless the service starts soon, it won’t get its new plane by even 2020, he said in a recent interview.
Is Murdoc the only one who doesn’t think we’ll see another manned long-range bomber?
Boeing Co. (BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) both say they already have started work on the concept. Analysts say the Air Force may have a stockpile of classified research, or “black” projects, to draw on, or it could revive a plan to build a bomber version of Lockheed Martin’s F-22 stealth fighter.
Teal Group aircraft expert Richard Aboulafia said the Air Force needs some kind of a running start to have any chance at meeting the 2018 goal. The Defense Department’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review emphasized that date, overriding previous plans to aim for a new bomber around 2025.
One way I can see these requirements being met is by a combination of a UAV bomber and a manned plane, maybe either the FB-22 concept or perhaps the “B-747” JDAM platform we’ve talked about from time to time. Building on the X-45 UCAV program and Global Hawk to produce a workable unmanned bomber in ten years seems perfectly reasonable, and stretching the F-22 into a strike bomber or converting a commercial airliner into a bomb carrier in that time seems possible, as well. An entirely new manned bomber does not.
I wondered back in December, when the “Attack” designation was dropped from the Raptor, if the change might not be part of a move to get the FB-22 concept back into play. Might we be seeing something along those lines now? Only time will tell.
Read the whole thing, which has a lot more info. It also scores bonus points for Understatement Of The Month:
Major aircraft development programs have a history of running over budget and behind schedule. They also are expensive.
Meanwhile, Grand Forks, ND is set to become the Air Force’s “UAV Hub“.