Friday, July 31, 2015

Would a bomber make a better fighter?

Next Generation Bomber concept art.


Sorry I missed posting last week.

Looks like a whopping 47% of you believe that the Su-35 should be the designated "bad guy" when considering future threats.  Fair enough.  It's fast, agile, and nasty.

For this week, I wanted to slightly revisit the question "Is the dogfight dead".  While the majority of you disagree with that statement, it would seem that those pushing for the F-35 have hitched their horse to the BVR combat wagon.

Undoubtedly, BVR combat has become the norm, rather than the exception.  Better sensors and better missiles have lead to the point where if a pilot finds themselves in a fur-ball, than something has probably gone wrong.  Better to take out the enemy unseen, from a distance, without the need to burn excess fuel.  This is the case for the F-35.

If there is validity to this argument; that fighter aircraft no longer need to maneuver, then why not push the concept further?

Fighters like the F-35 and F-22 are indeed stealthy, but they are not the stealthiest thing in the sky.  That honor belongs to the B-2 Spirit.  While the specifics are classified, the B-2 has about the same RCS (radar cross section) as the much smaller F-35 (about the size of a metal golf ball).  The B-2's tailless "flying wing" design makes stealthier to low band radars, and its inboard exhaust substantially reduce its IR signature.

If stealth and sensors have rendered traditional fighter characteristics like agility and speed obsolete, then why not adapt a bomber platform to carry out the air-superiority role?

With a similar RCS, the ability to cary a much higher payload of missiles, a longer loiter time, longer range, and the possibility of being fitted with a massive sensor package; a bomber platform could make for an impressive air-superiority platform.

With the USAF's Next Generation Bomber (NGB) coming soon, is it time to consider its potential role in air-to-air combat?






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