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#21 Mr King

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 2116 PM

Questions on the B-1 and its super sonic  capability. Is it something that is utilized often? Does the B-1 super cruise? In the age of stand off munitions, and low intensity warfare bomb trucking, Is there a need for a super sonic bomber with the capabilities and limitations of the B-1, that only the B-1 can fulfill? I'm not trying to disparage the B-1 in anyway, I am just curious if our continued use of the B-1 is more than we need a bomber, so lets keep these around because they are paid for. I am ignorant on the subject. 



#22 Josh

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 2236 PM

Calvin obviously knows more, but my understanding was that the B-1's engine inlets were optimized for low RCS and low level flight, and that's why the B-1B production version has a much slower high altitude top speed vs the original B-1A*. It isn't able to super cruise as far as I know but I believe it can maintain ~700 miles an hour on the deck sans reheat.

As for 'need for super sonic bomber', probably none to be honest, just the fact it's in inventory in numbers without new development or production. The B-52 is hardly a modern platform optimized for its current role, but in both cases they bring high payload and long range to the table. In the B-1's case there is also optional high speed at low level, though I specifically remember Calvin commenting that he thought B-1 low altitude training was a waste of the airframe's flight hours.

*EDIT: Pretty sure this had to do with variable geometry air intakes that would increase engine efficiency at high altitude but compromise the RCS.

Edited by Josh, 24 October 2017 - 2237 PM.


#23 Calvinb1nav

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 0732 AM

Questions on the B-1 and its super sonic  capability. Is it something that is utilized often? Does the B-1 super cruise? In the age of stand off munitions, and low intensity warfare bomb trucking, Is there a need for a super sonic bomber with the capabilities and limitations of the B-1, that only the B-1 can fulfill? I'm not trying to disparage the B-1 in anyway, I am just curious if our continued use of the B-1 is more than we need a bomber, so lets keep these around because they are paid for. I am ignorant on the subject. 

 

It wasn't used routinely in training as there are severe restrictions in which airspace in CONUS it can be done.  However, a couple of years ago, it was decided to prohibit supersonic flight during peacetime to preserve airframe life.  They can use it in wartime obviously.  It isn't able to supercruise.

 

The B-1A could do Mach 2.5 at 40,000' due to the variable geometry inlets and much lighter airframe.  

 

The fast speed of the B-1 allows it to dash from place to place in order to place more enemy territory/targets at risk and has often been used to quickly respond to troops-in-contact situations.  The B-1 can get to an emergency CAS location twice as fast a B-52...  Also, doing a supersonic flyby with the attendant sonic boom has frequently been used as a show-of-force during the recent un-pleasantries to scare the enemy off.  For example, my crew and I were in an orbit in eastern Afghanistan circa 2002 and were about to leave, hit a tanker, and return to base when we got a radio call to proceed to with all due haste to a location in western Afghanistan.  We proceeded at mil power (600+ knots) and it still took us 20 minutes to get there.  There was a British SBS patrol was in a village surrounded by hundreds of angry villagers.  They requested a supersonic flyby which we did at low altitude (the B-1 makes an unusually loud sonic boom due to its size/shape).  After we did a second pass at their request, we checked off and scurried off to find a tanker.  After we landed, we were told that the villagers had been throwing rocks, etc. and the Brits were only minutes away from shooting at the crowd in order to avoid having the compound they were in stormed and being torn limb from limb.  Apparently, it was sort of a torch and pitchforks kind of scene and after the first sonic boom, the crowd stopped what they were doing and on the second, all scattered.  The Brits were able to jump in their vehicles and escape.  The British liaison officer at the Combined Air Ops Center at Al Udeid tracked down our B-1 liaison officer and gave him a big hug from what we heard.  Given British understatement, it must be a close run thing.  A slower bomber wouldn't have gotten there in time.

 

In my opinion, perhaps we have erred too much on the side of stealth at the expense of speed.  Speed greatly complicates an enemy's defense.  A B-1 can outrun nearly any fighter once we maneuver and get them on our six o'clock because they don't have the fuel to maintain afterburner long enough to catch us (except maybe someone who doesn't plan on returning to base or maybe a fully fueled Su-27 or MiG-31).  Got lots of stories about this from RED FLAG.  Even a lot of SAMs have a hard time catching a supersonic receding target.  A DPRK MiG-17 can chase down a B-52 or B-2 or B-21, on the other hand.  Maybe I'm biased, but there is something about being able to get the hell of out Dodge in a hurry. 

 

Speed also imparts more weapons standoff.  A JDAM coming out of B-70 going Mach 3 at altitude would probably go 40+ nm(though it would probably need longer batteries and might not stand the heat from the air friction) and a JDAM with a Diamondback fin kit would probably go 70-80+ nm.  Guided glide bombs are much cheaper than JSSAM for example...


Edited by Calvinb1nav, 29 October 2017 - 0848 AM.


#24 Panzermann

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 0758 AM

You make some very good points about speed, calvinb1nav. I think because of decades of "bomb-trucking" speed is overlooked as a factor nowadays.


I see a similar gap coming with the Tornado replacement. Which most probabaly will not be a super-sonic bomber at all.

#25 Mr King

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 0352 AM

Thank you Calvin for that very insightful answer to my questions. I appreciate it. 

 

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#26 Kenneth P. Katz

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 1859 PM

I believe so, but those weapons have not been in the inventory for decades.

 

Do you recall if the B-52 ever employed any of the old SUU-30 series CBU's (CBU-24/-52/-58/-71)? I know that their performance and reliability wasn't exactly the greatest.






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