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America's Next Bomber: Unmanned, Unlimited Range, Aimed At China 400

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the solving-world-hunger-through-total-war dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. military is developing its next generation bomber with Chinese anti-access strategy — the ability to stop any enemy force from coming to fight with things like carrier killer missiles — in mind. The new bomber will replace older platforms like the 1950's B-52, the 1970's B-1, and 1990's B-2 stealth bomber. The new bomber will sport some unique qualities. It will have an option to be unmanned, will act similar to a UAV, have better stealth capabilities, will be connected to U.S. intelligence networks to create a 'smart' battlefield environment, and have near unlimited range thanks to in-air refueling."
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America's Next Bomber: Unmanned, Unlimited Range, Aimed At China

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  • by WarSpiteX (98591) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:44PM (#39921951) Homepage

    It will also be a great way to take out some hacker's ex-girlfriend's house in Nevada. Damn bitch left him for a cop.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Nah, it going to be a troop of ninja monkeys with backpack nukes.

    • by WarSpiteX (98591) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:02AM (#39923813) Homepage

      To the mods:

      I don't think I intended this to be funny. It was a few hours ago, so I admit my perspective may be skewed, but I think I was highlighting the fact that "unhackable" had the same veracity as "unsinkable" w.r.t. the Titanic. It's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to take control with a hack.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:47PM (#39921979) Homepage

    Just like the B52...

    I wonder how easy it would be to turn a B52 into a UAV? I mean, they can still send Slim Pickens along to get the bombs un-stuck, but otherwise unmanned.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:22PM (#39922313) Journal

      I wonder how easy it would be to turn a B52 into a UAV?

      There are $55 billion reasons not to turn B-52s into UAVs

      The new "Long-Range Strike Bomber" [...] just $550 million per copy for up to 100 copies, with production beginning in the early 2020s. The U.S. Congress approved the first $300 million in development funding late last year. The Pentagon has vowed to cancel the Long-Range Strike Bomber if the total projected program cost exceeds $55 billion.

      Maybe they should just strip down the F-22 fleet and make them unmanned.
      I bet they could do that for ~$100 million per plane.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:48PM (#39922573) Homepage

        I'm not involved in the bomber project they're talking about here, but I noticed that it looks almost exactly like the drone Boeing was fiddling with... just scaled up.

        I wouldn't be surprised if this is basically a way to salvage (at least on a ledger somewhere) a huge amount of R&D costs sunk on a machine that never got bought up.

        • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:59PM (#39922659) Homepage

          Basically they are just a way to baboozle 55 billion dollars out of the US treasury with whispers in the dark of the yellow terror. With stealth cruise missiles that can be fired from land, ships, submarines and aircraft, why the hell would you stuff around with a 550 million dollar bomber whose only real purpose is to cost 550 million dollars.

          You could imagine US corporations paying kickbacks to Chinese Officials to ramp up war talk and publicly advertise and exaggerate military capability. I wonder how big a bribe someone like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman would pay a few Chinese Officials to make threatening noises and to go on a militaristic marketing spree. A 10 million dollar investment out of one of those off shore tax haves, sure would, has, will go a long way to get some hostile words out of officials from China.

          Besides it's in the Government of China's best interest to send the US broke by allowing the US military Industrial complex to spend trillions preparing to fight a fictitious war and with US lobbyists in the game, treasonous US politicians are right in it up to their necks.

          • by Americano (920576)

            With stealth cruise missiles that can be fired from land, ships, submarines and aircraft, why the hell would you stuff around with a 550 million dollar bomber whose only real purpose is to cost 550 million dollars.

            Because cruise missiles typically have a range of 200-600 miles. Submarines and ships can only reach 600 miles from the coast; you need a launcher on land within 600 miles of your intended target. Or, you can launch from a mobile aerial platform, which can fly undetected within 600 miles of any

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Because cruise missiles typically have a range of 200-600 miles. Submarines and ships can only reach 600 miles from the coast; you need a launcher on land within 600 miles of your intended target. .

              Where in the world did you get that from. As an ex submariner I can say FOR CERTAIN that submarines can get WAAY closer than 600 miles. Try maybe 6. If the water is over 50 feet deep, a sub can go there (and often does).

              Just sayin'

            • by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:45AM (#39924099)
              The other issue is that cruise missiles carry a limited amount of ordnance, so they're not going to be effective against heavily fortified targets. The Iranian nuclear facility at Fordow is buried under 200 feet of mountain and heavily reinforced with concrete. To destroy a hardened target like that, you need heavy-duty weapons like the 30,000 lb. Massive Ordnance Penetrator. And to drop an MOP, you need a bomber. Right now the B-2 is the only aircraft the U.S. has that is capable of both penetrating air defenses and carrying that kind of payload, and the B-2 fleet consists of a total of 20 aircraft.
            • For any actual open military conflict involving US and China (you know, the kind where you'd be launching cruise missiles or sending bombers 600 miles beyond the border of China!), I frankly don't see much point in anything other than ICBMs.

      • by besalope (1186101)

        Maybe they should just strip down the F-22 fleet and make them unmanned. I bet they could do that for ~$100 million per plane.

        But skynet activates once they cross the international date line [defenseindustrydaily.com].

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        You can't turn an F-22 Airframe into an effective Bomber, it wasn't designed for it from the beginning. The requirements of a bomber and an air superiority fighter are vastly different.

    • by Centurix (249778)

      Don't need bombs, just send the automated Slim Pickens over.

      • by siddesu (698447)
        Don't need the robot Slim Pickens either, just build the damned Doomsday device in Ohio already. Hasn't the dear Herr Doktor left some plans?
    • by Fwipp (1473271)

      Why would you want to? A drone's main advantage is that they don't have to be designed to support a pilot. It's not like the pilot "costs" anywhere near as much as the plane, either.

      (I'm obviously speaking from a military/logistic point of view here - any avoidable loss of human life is tragic, but the beancounters aren't known for accounting for that.)

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:47PM (#39921981)

    Who the hell lets this shit through? The new bomber is designed to counter new strategies. That doesn't mean it's "aimed at China". That's a needlessly belligerent phrase -- either warmongering or scaremongering over the prospects of war. If England develops bullets that can pierce American body armor, will we hear about new "British Guns Aimed at America!"?

    Sorry chickenhawks, but America and China won't go to war. Our economies are far too interdependent.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:53PM (#39922029)

      Maybe it's a typo and it's supposed to say 'made in China'.

    • by LeperPuppet (1591409) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:56PM (#39922065)
      It's how you sell new weapons systems. This one's all about threatening China because it's hard to talk up the usefulness of $500m+ bombers against insurgencies.
    • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:02PM (#39922129)

      Well, it *will* be aimed at China. It will also be aimed at North Korea, Iran, Russia, really any place that a) still has buildings to blow up and b) once looked at us funny.

      • by tsotha (720379)
        Which makes it different from other weapon systems... how?
        • by gman003 (1693318)

          This one is better. More expensive, true, but also better.

          What do you mean, "better in what way"? What are you, a commie terrorist nazi baby-killer illegal immigrant or something? It's better. That's all you need to know, and probably all you're cleared to know. It's all very top-secret, classified, but just trust us that it's better, and that it's totally worth the cost. SUPPORT THE TROOPS! U-S-A! U-S-A!

        • This weapon system will integrate high value sub-assemblies from undecided congressional districts, thus ensuring total funding-superiority in any budget battle.

      • by darkmeridian (119044) <william...chuang@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 07, 2012 @09:58PM (#39923107) Homepage

        The truth is that this will really be aimed at China and North Korea because their locations make it really hard for the US to project any force in the region. The Middle East isn't a problem because we can base our weapons in friendly nations, and Russia isn't a problem because we have Poland and Turkey and those countries. The China/NK problem will only get worse as these countries develop anti-access weapons such as rockets and ballistic missiles. In China's case, the J-20 stealth fighter is probably going to be a strike fighter that is stealth only from the front; if you have a base nearby, China will flood your defenses with J-20s, then bomb it to pieces.

        The new generation of bombers will be stealth enough to penetrate deep into enemy territory, big enough to carry munitions that can destroy bunkers (which cruise missiles can't do), and can be unmanned so they can be made cheaper and deployed more readily than the B-2.

        Right now, the B-2 only has a two-man crew. Even if you refuel all the time, eventually the crew gets tired and has to sleep and the mission has to end. But with a drone, you can conceivably have the mission go on indefinitely if you can figure out how to refuel in flight. You can have extended loiter capabilities in enemy territory, which can be killer. The first wave of stealth goes in and bombs the known enemy air defenses. They carry bombs in reserve and loiter. The second wave comes in and when anyone opens their radar, the loiter drones pop them from behind. You can get pretty creative when you can fly a drone for days in a row.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you modded the parent as "funny", I assume that you mean in an ironic sort of way. Because, the parent is right on target - so to speak. As a matter of fact, my Taiwanese friends are under the impression that if China decides to assert her ownership of Taiwan, the US would huff and puff and wouldn't do shit about it; hence why the Taiwanese diaspora here in the US.

      If you ever wanted to know what it was like to live in Rome during its decline, come to the US- we know.

    • Sorry chickenhawks, but America and China won't go to war. Our economies are far too interdependent.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U7QJu_Wsbk [youtube.com]

      Perhaps the first time I've ever had a chance to reference that show on this site. Yes, I haven't been paying attention. :) Good show, that... and a good point.

    • by Svartormr (692822)
      Yes, the phrasing of the article is flamebait. The reality is for a top-end weapon system, you're going to design it to be used against the most difficult target as you project it will be over the lifetime of service. In this case, that means the toughest air defence systems, which would be Russia and China.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Monday May 07, 2012 @09:49PM (#39923041) Homepage

      Sorry chickenhawks, but America and China won't go to war. Our economies are far too interdependent.

      I'd never trust where the guns are going to point during a collapse. A good example now is Greece which is starting to fall apart, they voted in a neo-nazi party (according to everyone but themselves, they just call themselves nationalist and patriotic) with 7% of the votes that promises to expel all immigrants, put landmines on the border to Turkey to stop illegal crossings, they sell Mein Kampf at the party office and they do the Nazi salute (which they say is an ancient Roman and Greek salute). And while Greece has over 20% unemployment and a constant recession since 2008 they haven't even been thrown out of the euro or the EU yet so the situation could get a lot worse.

      And behind Greece there's a whole lot of other dominos lined up that are also fighting a collapse, Spain and Italy being the prime concerns right now. I don't really think people see how bad the the worst case scenarios can get because these countries have been borrowing from each other just like the Lehman collapse, if one goes down the whole house of cards starts falling apart. And I'm sure the world economy doesn't need another kick in the balls from Europe, it seems down enough as it is. The whole of the 2000s after the dotcoms is starting to look like the world's biggest bubble, I don't mean any particular branch like housing but the whole world economy. That 2008 = 1929 and we're now early into the 1930s, I pray we don't get to the end of them...

  • Hardware backdoors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adeptus_Luminati (634274) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:55PM (#39922059)

    "The U.S. military is developing its next generation bomber with Chinese anti-access strategy"

    That can only be achieved if there's ZERO electronic components made in China in the aircraft....Good luck with that.

    Nov 2011 Article: US weapons 'full of fake Chinese parts'
    Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8876656/US-weapons-full-of-fake-Chinese-parts.html [telegraph.co.uk]

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:06PM (#39922167)

      No, you misunderstand the counterfeit part issue.

      It's not that we're worried about hardware backdoors. No one's gonna slip a backdoor into your resistor. The few parts complex enough to hold a backdoor get made in the US.

      What we are worried about is that the resistors, line drivers, relays, etc. aren't actually spec'd for the environment they'll be used in. Consumer grade electronics, for example, are generally made to work from around 0 to 70 degrees C. Military grade is something like -55 to 125 degC. If you design a plane in which your circuit will need to operate at 100 degC, and you buy parts that can handle that stress, and some cheap Chinese manufacturer gives you consumer grade parts instead, then your circuit could fail at a very inopportune time.

    • by Raul654 (453029) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:11PM (#39922223) Homepage

      "That can only be achieved if there's ZERO electronic components made in China in the aircraft" -- the Department of Defense funds the Trusted Foundry Program [trustedfou...rogram.org] for just this purpose.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:00PM (#39922101) Homepage Journal

    We give them all our money and jobs, and then spend a fortune to arm ourselves against them. Something.....is.....wrong.....here.

  • Let's waste more money trying to kill one another. Our debt isn't high enough yet.

  • Why else would they build this thing to fight an enemy that doesn't even exist. Most likely it will be a trillion-dollar blackhole like the F-22 Fighter debacle. Do the politicians not care that the national + state debt is almost 19 trillion dollars? (almost $190,000 per household). Guess not.

     

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:11PM (#39922219) Homepage

      Anybody who thinks China isn't 'the enemy' is smoking something good (come on, share it, dude). The next set of wars will be resource wars (just like the last ones). Likely by proxy and likely 'low intensity' but they will be wars nonetheless. The chance of the US and China going full out turn-the-the-guy-into-molten-glass is pretty low (but non zero).

      There will be too much competition for oil (and possibly water) in the next 50 years. We're not doing anything to mitigate growth - our economy requires growth to survive - and so does China's.

      That said, the idea that we need half billion dollar UAV bombers to pound somebody's jungle into a parking lot seems a tad over the top. TFA was really just an exercise in Pentagon babble, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing....

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>Anybody who thinks China isn't 'the enemy' is smoking something good

        Uh huh.
        You probably think Iran is developing a nuclear weapon too. (Hint: They aren't.) As someone above said China would not attack us, because it would destroy their economy... they'd have no one to sell their products to.

        • As someone above said China would not attack us, because it would destroy their economy... they'd have no one to sell their products to.

          And when we're not their biggest consumer? Got news for ya, South America is up and coming. Keep an eye on Brazil over the next 30 years.

      • Not just oil and water but also food. China already has over a billion mouths to feed and spends a tremendous amount of effort trying to feed most of them. But the rural agriculture towns are increasingly looking at the modernizing cities with envy and looking at farm fields with scorn. Besides everybody knows Foxconn is hiring.

        The population will soar, paired up with an increasing social divide. Farmers won't want to farm and food shortages will get worse. Water shortages will get worse. Nobody is

        • First the Soviets, now the Chinese. Give the witch-hunt a rest.

          The Chinese-Americans, might I add and before we begin tromping out the POW camps, are more than happy to be out from under their homeland government, and will remain so up and until you or people like you, decide to start treating Americans as something lesser than citizens. Lastly, and for the record, no one gets to choose where they are born, but given enough freedom, they can choose where they live.

          If the US government wants the Chinese Amer

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      U.S. loves to kill things. Why else would they build this thing to fight an enemy that doesn't even exist.

      Because it lets them spend money on what are essentially make-work jobs. Nothing gets a congressman reelected quite like opening up a new factory in his district.

    • I like to revisit the US Debt Clock [usdebtclock.org] (warning flash heavy) from time to time. If you add in mortgage, personal, and student loan debt it's about ~180k per person. $190k per household is just government debt (total debt per household is closer to $700k, nearly $60 trillion altogether). As for money creation 'Currency and Credit derivatives' are approaching 1 quadrillion.
    • by tsotha (720379)
      The F-22 is not a "debacle". It does what it was designed to do, and will be very useful if we ever go toe to toe with a country that has reasonable air defenses.
      • Yeah...there are arguments to be made that we don't need it,,,and it does have that nasty habit of suffocating it's pilots....but calling it a debacle is a bit strong. It does exactly what it was designed to do.

        In wargames, it's always the raptors on blue and everyone else on red. And the raptors mop the floor up with the red team. Apparently some pilots of other planes feel that it is quite an accomplishment to even see/get a lock on a Raptor. Most of the time, you just get informed that you are dead and
  • Cheap solar powered very high altitude unmanned platforms that are cheaper to produce than the missile needed to shoot them down, just sitting up there until their payload is needed, be it a bomb, rocket, jammer, communications relay or recon.

  • Given the realities (ie corruption and incompetence) of the current Pentagon procurement system, if this project doesn't get killed it will be lucky to produce more than a handful of aircraft, at a cost of several billion dollars each.
  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:13PM (#39922239) Homepage Journal

    The F-22 kickbacks have been paid off for a weapon that will likely never see service.

    The F-35's on their way to suck at the budget teat in Canada and the US both. Planes which just happen to be ill-suited to patrolling the arctic, which is the main reason Canada wanted them in the first place, effectively making them as useless as the F-22s are for the US.

    How many BILLIONS are they planning to spend on bombers to attack an "enemy" that shows no signs of military buildup or aggression THIS time?

    Just how long is it going to take the world to stop feeding the military-industrial pigs that design this overpriced crap? When are our governments going to realize that you reach a point where no matter how much you've spent to date, you have to CANCEL a project because it will NEVER pay for itself nor deliver what it promised?

    • by msobkow (48369)

      In an age of cruise missiles and smart missiles launched from conventional fighters and a demand from the public that all weapons be precisely targeted to minimize "collateral damage", what's the freaking PURPOSE of a bomber in the first place? If you want to nuke them, you'd use an ICBM. If you want precise targetting, you'd use a Tomahawk or a drone.

      Just what are these idiots planning to bomb?

      • by mirix (1649853)

        Bombers are ideal for carpet-bombing poor people with no anti-aircraft systems. Much cheaper than using guided missiles if you want to level the whole country anyway.

        (well, B-52s were cheaper at least, this new boondoggle probably not so much).

        I think most of the post-50's hardware is more about jerbs, kickbacks, dick waving, and elections than it is about the hardware anyway.

    • by bmo (77928)

      >The F-35's on their way to suck at the budget teat in Canada and the US both

      And Australia.

      --
      BMO

  • ... hold fire and land at an enemy military base?

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:19PM (#39922287)

    Like that's going to be really good for our economy or like, anyone.

    I cannot fathom that there are people actually walking around with squirrel-cage driven brains that came up with this depressingly evil idea. They envision another Cold War and MAD as if it's a good thing. People like this are traitors to the US and to the entire human race.

    Take your Pax Americana, chickenhawk neocons, and shove it up your collective ass.

    --
    BMO

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:37PM (#39922479) Homepage Journal

    This plan is just a way to spend $TRILLIONS on US military/intel crony capitalists.

    If the US just spent $1T on an industrial policy, and put China's neighbors in charge of their own military defense (but shared our intel), we'd have security, peace, and $TRILLIONS more. Not to mention the increased GDP and taxes from it, with a better functioning industrial system.

    But that wouldn't dedicate all our money and effort to the war business. Which is the business that controls America.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:40PM (#39922507)

    Next-Generation Bomber: just $550 million per copy for up to 100 copies, with production beginning in the early 2020s.

    At these dollar amounts, it's cheaper to purchase one bomber, then make 99 copies yourself and just pay the fine for copyright infringement.

  • We already have these. They are called ICBMs.

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      ICBMs are NOT stealthy, have limited range, can not be refueled and are limited to 1 payload.
      Also, they were used for nukes, not conventional ordinance.

      I like the idea of a UAV bomber. However, I think it should be a scaled up Predator that can be refueled and rearmed by flying into a specially equipped C-17 instead of this hybrid style of bomber they have proposed.

  • Step 1. USA develops it Step 2. Steal it Step 3. Rename it 'Almighty Hapiness Warrior Dragon Plan' I am sure China appreciates the US doing the R&D for them on this project.
  • Now what kind of sense does that make? After all, China is where the bulk of that derivatives processing has been offshored to -- obviously econocide??
  • Defense contractor's revenue down.

    Plan to introduce an exciting new product.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:07PM (#39923141) Homepage Journal

    So I guess this means my grandkids are going to live in a world that is every bit as fucked up as this one.

    Just out of curiosity: Have we any indication at all that China is looking to conquer the world and subjugate all of the West? Or is just a matter of making sure that the military contractors that already have the no-bid contract in their back pocket for this new "unmanned, unlimited range bomber aimed at China" can announce very nice projected earnings at their next shareholders meeting at Sanctuare? What kind of pieces of shit are our ruling class that they can look out over a country with eroding middle class incomes and say, "We really need to spend more on new weapons systems to fight the Chinese. Oh, and tax cuts for the rich! What the fuck is the matter with them?

    Sometimes, I read a story like this, and the kid in my that used to love to play Army completely disappears, and is replaced by an adult that wishes the US would have an economic downturn sufficient to prevent its next wave of ridiculous military spending. I wonder if maybe getting a dose of what the rest of the world has been getting for the past forever might not be a good thing for America. Just enough of a taste to stop being so obsessed with having the biggest dick.

    Honestly, I can't decide if our rulers are murderous sociopaths or just purely corrupted by corporate money. I don't believe it can be both. Murderous sociopaths tend to not be good for profits, and the purely corrupt tend to not have time for reveling in bloodshed because it gets in the way of their yachting and dressage time.

    I don't look forward to the next election and the prospect of having to tell people I'm Canadian when I travel abroad, as I found myself doing during the past decade. The old Bowie song, "I'm Afraid of Americans" wasn't supposed to apply to Americans, I don't think.

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