Friday, February 26, 2016

Northrop Grumman's B-21 Bomber Concept Revealed

Newly released B-21 unclassified computer art? Deja Vu Baby!

The artist's concept revealed by the Air Force for the newly-revealed B-21 "bomber" (will that moniker survive or will it become something else when it is all said and done?) is "Deja Vu all over again". Cool.

Contrast the B-21 computer sketch just released:

...with the first artistic rendering of the B-2 for public release:

Someone has a sense of humor...and history.

Note the similarities between the two in what is obscured and what is revealed. Both illustrations mask the exhaust design completely and 'shadow' the aft window areas. The B-2's debut drawing had more details shown for the intakes, but there may not be any details to be masked in the B-21's design....or some interesting details left out perhaps?

Both illustrations give ZERO indication of what the underside shape or volume may be. The B-2's leading edge rendering gives a hint to what had become one of its most critical design features: the 'toothpick' leading edge (P.64). I do see something that I find kind of surprising in the B-21 illustration (not going to say what it is until maybe after I talk to some folks) but I wonder now if there's a critical design feature hinted at here that will only come out in time just like the B-2's 'toothpick'?

I'll let our potential enemies' minds boggle over the possibilities. I'll also just enjoy the possibility that the data from original B-2 high-altitude design optimization seems to have come in handy for Northrop Grumman in preparing their winning design.

Minor Snickers

1. So much for all that cranked-kite speculation eh?
2. The conspiracy nuts are going to have a field day with the revelation there has been no prototypes built.    


Marauder2048 said...

" I do see something that I find kind of surprising in the B-21 illustration (not going to say what it is until maybe after I talk to some folks)"

The inlet design: Boundary layer ingestion + active flow control?

SMSgt Mac said...

Heh, I said I'm NOT saying now, and even only MAYBE later. ;-)

Unknown said...

I remember getting a copy of that B-2 illustration in the late 80s from the Northrup booth at that year's Proud Shield symposium at Barksdale (along with a neat heat sensitive B-2 mug). that was the first thing that came to mind when I first saw the B-21 illustration as well.

Dimitris said...

The overall configuration looks remarkably similar to AARS-Quartz, and of course to the pre-redesign B-2.

Assuming that the design is optimized for med/high altitude (as AARS and the original B-2 were), this may reflect a strong statement of belief on the part of USAF that VLO and EW/EA are by themselves sufficient for penetration of a future state-of-art IADS.

(In comparison, the B-2 redesign for lo-lo reflected a hedge born by strong concern that stealth and jamming may prove insufficient against PVO modernization, necessitating terrain-masking tactics.)

Phil T said...

interesting that it's a similar concept but if that is representative of the final shape there are some significant differences.

Meanwhile in Oz, there's been a senate inquiry into the F-35 purchase (yep another one). The usual clowns are out. Submissions available here for when you need a laugh -

Marauder2048 said...

Would love to read your journalism career obituary for Bill Sweetman.

Don M said...

Another nice article. Good work on your shack!

SMSgt Mac said...

Thanks Don! Sorry about not seeing your comment earlier. I finally got the barn doors hung right and am sealing them off so I put some A/C in there to finish the sheetrock.