The USAF’s stealthy long-range bomber, the B-21 Raider, will have the endurance and next-generation stealth capability to elude the most advanced air defenses and attack anywhere in the world, officials say.
The Russians say … not so fast, Uncle Sam …
Russian built S-300 and S-400 air defenses are believed to be among the best in the world. Of that, there is no argument.
And, they are now working on an S-500 system able to destroy even stealthy targets at distances up to 125 miles. Air superiority? Moscow laughs at such claims. Putin just smirks. Something he’s rather good at.
“Our 5th generation global precision attack platform will give our country a networked sensor shooter capability enabling us to hold targets at risk anywhere in the world in a way that our adversaries have never seen,” former Air Force Secretary Deborah James said last year.
Although official details about the B-21 are, quite naturally, not available — some observers have pointed out that the early graphic rendering of the plane does not show exhaust pipes at all, according to a report in National Interest by Kris Osborn.
This could mean that the Air Force has found a new method or releasing fumes or reducing the heat signature of the new stealth plane.
The new bomber, called the B-21, was formally named the “Raider” through a formal naming competition involving members of the Air Force, their families and other participants, the report said.
The Air Force has awarded a production contract to Northrop Grumman to engineer its new bomber. The LRS-B will be a next-generation stealth aircraft designed to introduce new stealth technology and fly alongside — and ultimately replace — the service’s existing B-2 bomber.
“With LRS-B, I can take off from the continental United States and fly for a very long way. I don’t have to worry about getting permission to land at another base and worry about having somebody try to target the aircraft. It will provide a long-reach capability,” Lt. Gen. Bunch, Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview last year.
The service plans to field the new bomber by the mid-2020s. The Air Force plans to acquire as many as 80 to 100 new bombers for a price of roughly US$550 million per plane in 2010 dollars, Air Force leaders have said.
Although there is not much publicly available information when it comes to stealth technology — it is still highly classified — industry sources have explained that the LRS-B is being designed to elude the world’s most advanced radar systems, the report said.
For instance, lower-frequency surveillance radar allows enemy air defenses to know that an aircraft is in the vicinity, and higher-frequency engagement radar allows integrated air defenses to target a fast-moving aircraft.
The idea is to design a bomber able to fly, operate and strike anywhere in the world without an enemy even knowing an aircraft is there.
The new aircraft is being engineered to evade increasingly sophisticated air defenses, which now use faster processors, digital networking and sensors to track even stealthy aircraft on a wider range of frequencies at longer ranges. These frequencies include UHF, VHF and X-band, among others.
“As the threat evolves we will be able to evolve the airplane and we will still be able to hold any target at risk” Bunch said.
It is not known if the Raider will sport the same top secret advanced anti-gravity technology, which the B-2 utilizes, but it is fair to assume that it will. The technology is borne from Lockheed Martins’s Skunkworks, and is still one of the best kept secrets of the USAF.
According to a Sputnik report,“the S-500 is expected to be able to detect and simultaneously attack up to ten ballistic missile warheads flying at speeds of over 4 miles a second.”
It will also have several distinct radar systems geared towards different targets, The National Interest reported. For example, the system will have different radars to detect planes, helicopters, drones and missiles.
According to Sputnik, “All that is known is that the Yenisei radar features a phased-array antenna to spot and track aerial targets across an entire range of altitudes, provide ‘friend or foe’ identification and determine priority targets.”
Previous reports in the National Interest have noted that the S-500 “is expected to use the 91N6A(M) battle management radar, a modified 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, as well as the new 76T6 multimode engagement and 77T6 ABM engagement radars.
“The 40N’s homing system will differ from what can be found on all other air defense missiles.”
Specifically, its “one-of-a-kind self-homing warheads search for their targets and, finding them, switch to an automatic-homing mode.”
It goes on to state that the 40N6 is a two-stage solid fuel missile that is capable of reaching speeds of nine times the speed of sound. The report also claims the thirty-foot long missile has a “blast-fragmentation warhead with a range of 310 miles and 95-percent accuracy.”