Feeds

SpaceShipOne firm to build Stealth Bomber 4.0?

Even its raison d'être can't be detected

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The new black bomber might have new, fourth-gen technology, speculatively dubbed "Ultra Stealth" by Sweetman. This could conceivably offer a radar cross-section a thousandth of that presented by the Stealth-3.0 F-35, now in production test. Even a mosquito has a radar signature ten times larger than this.

Of course, strategic bombing is all rather out of fashion these days. Even tactical bombing tends to be a matter of hanging about for a long time in fairly safe bits of sky, dropping a few small, precise weapons on rare occasions. Opportunities to mount sneak raids into an alive-and-kicking air defence network are nowadays scarce. And when they do crop up, it seems that electronic trickery may count for more than low radar signature.

Do you need to take out the Iran's deep uranium centrifuge bunkers at Natanz, perhaps? Well, if a B-2 with a couple of Massive Ordnance Penetrators won't do, you could just put a suitable conventional warhead on an intercontinental missile. The need for a new bomber isn't immediately apparent, especially one that isn't even hypersonic.

(And no, launching a rocket won't make people think you've started a nuclear war, any more than when your nuclear-capable planes take off.)

However, the US Air Force apparently counter such arguments by saying that their new stealth planes - which in any case don't exist, so why are you even criticising them* - would also be great for spying missions. Air force men the world over tend to love bombers and strategic bombing - without these things, they might have to go and be part of the army.

The loose plan might be to keep things black until maybe 2010, then hold a competition for the production bomber fleet which Northrop/Scaled would be bound to win, having already built a secret demonstrator. This might avoid some of the messy hair-pulling by rival contractors which has made the USAF's life such a misery in recent aircraft buys.

Some versions of the plane might be manned, but for ultimate stealthiness and endurance an unmanned version would be more or less bound to appear. Read all of Bill Sweetman's crafty analysis here and here. ®

*This could be a primary reason for keeping the project secret.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.