Feeds

SpaceShipOne firm to build Stealth Bomber 4.0?

Even its raison d'être can't be detected

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
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
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
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
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.