No stewardesses needed

New American Heavy Bomber (1/29/04 entry)

Break out the champagne! The Strategy Page reports that the USAF is planning tests for the heavy bomber to replace the aging B-52, as well as the B-1.

Testing will begin in 2037.

(Maybe break out some ice along with the champagne.)

Our current fleet is aging faster than expected due to heavy use. Strategy Page mentions that some feel that UAVs or commercial aircraft could fill the gap. With the advent of the JDAM GPS-guided bomb, why not develop a relatively low-cost high-altitude JDAM carrier out of the 767 or a similar commercial plane? I mention the 767 because we’re already going to modify it for use as an overpriced tanker aircraft.

Get a jumbo jet loaded with fuel and an assortment of JDAMs on rotary launchers, circle eight miles above, and wait for someone to call in a mission. The weapons officer could put down his cup of coffee, punch in the coordinates, and press the button for the appropriate bomb. Orbiting so high would allow a large range of territory to be hit at a moment’s notice. Some call this idea the B-747. I think it’s worth a serious look.

At least we could scrape by until 2037.


  1. I work on the B-52H at Minot AFB and I haven’t seen the B-52 suffer from any of the serious maintenance problems of the B-2 or the B-1B. They’re very reliable and, although the plane could use newer more powerful engines (as Boeing tried to convince the USAF a while ago), I don’t see any reason we couldn’t extend the planes’ service past 2050.

  2. More groupthink from the USAF. They keep pouring it on for sexy cold war world beaters. Lets take a look at the A-10. Cost less than 10 million a copy. Super effective. Designed for a purpose without stretching available technology. Oh, by the way, the air force wanted to scrap em before the first gulf war. Too low tech and not sexy enough. The USAF should replace the B-52 and the B-1 with a simple reliable plane that is either in existence (cargo planes) or purpose built using proven current technology. Focus on mission, reliability, maintainability and cost. The USAF will not be able to do it. The A-10 was a fluke. They will keep burning national resources on ridiculous projects like the F-22. Oops, let’s make a super high tech fighter with unneeded capabilities and then as an afterthought design in attack capabilities to justify the whole program. Can you say ridiculously expensive and suboptimal performance? Seth

  3. Call it the ‘bomb bus’ I think the future is a boeing all composite flying wing with bombs.

  4. For low tech enemies a B-747 that just lobs bombs out the doors and let’s GPS do the rest should work. But with the advent of anti-misile/bomb/plane laser weapons, and the need for capability with a country like China I think you’ll see more low flying, high speed missile and drone capability being important, and surviveable then the big bomb warehouse in the sky. We’ll still need heavy lifting capability, but unless it’s amazingly stealthy, a B-747 won’t work in 2040.