Feeds

SpaceShipOne firm to build Stealth Bomber 4.0?

Even its raison d'être can't be detected

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.