According to the staff of the National Defense and Security Research Center of China, the strategic bomber of the United States Air Force under the designation B-21 is created taking into account the possibilities of destroying the Dongfeng-21 and Dongfeng-26 mobile launchers designed to combat ship groups of the likely enemy at a distance of 1800 – 2600 kilometers from the coast of the PRC.
Chinese analysts note that the B-21 task list probably includes:
long-range non-nuclear strikes against strategic targets;
nuclear strikes against key defense targets;
detection of ballistic missile launches when patrolling at high altitudes (from 20 thousands of meters);
destruction of mobile ground and rail launchers of ballistic missiles;
the organization of "air corridors" in the air defense system of the likely enemy.
What is this “raider” capable of?
Having the task of delivering non-nuclear strikes on defense infrastructure objects, strategic bombers B-21 (two units) with the participation of F-22 fighters (cover) and F-35 (provide suppression of the air defense system) will bombard aerodromes, rocket forces bases and radio electronic intelligence centers , control points, warehouses ammunition PLA. After the breakthrough of the B-21 air defense line, the location of the targets will be determined using on-board radar and laser scanning systems on the Earth’s surface. For their destruction it is possible to use small-sized aerial bombs of increased power (weight - 139 kilograms, up to 90 units in ammunition).
Chinese experts expect a modified AN / APG-21 version capable of performing more than 77 tasks: tracking the terrain, adjusting navigation parameters, searching for the target and its identification, ensuring air refueling and bombing as the main airborne radar B-20. . The AN / APG-77 radar has repeatedly demonstrated high reliability in conditions of strong electronic and magnetic countermeasures, and it is likely that the new version of the station will also be capable of jamming, which saves designers from installing additional EW equipment. In addition, according to Chinese physicists, American designers are able to develop for this aircraft a system of ionization of the surrounding space, which will completely hide it from radar detection by any radar.
For the second task, the bombers may use the long-range cruise ship LRSO with conventional and nuclear warheads. Their adoption by the US Air Force is scheduled for 2030 year. Probably, the B-21 bomb load will vary from 9 to 18 tons, depending on the ammunition used.
The third task will be carried out both by flying at subsonic speed (950 kilometers per hour) at high altitudes (more than 20 thousands of meters), and using the IRST system, which was tested on a YAL-1A carrier aircraft. It allows you to detect ballistic missile launches over 800 kilometers.
Chinese experts indicate that the maximum range of the B-21 without refueling is about 9300 kilometers, and the range of combat patrols is 4600 kilometers, but to hit targets in China, namely in the southern, eastern and central positional areas of the PLA missile forces bombers must be based on Guam or Diego Garcia. In the first case, the distance to Beijing is 2175 nautical miles, and to the central positional area of the PLA RV in Delingh is 2900, while in the second variant you can fly to the PRC and to Iran. When refueling in the air, the B-21 can be based on the AB Elmendorf (Alaska), Hickam (Hawaii) or in Australia.
According to analysts of the ICSNOB, initially the B-21 project provided for the use of four F-118 GE-100 engines (installed on the F-22), but to simplify and improve the reliability of the aircraft’s fuel system, the option with two F-135 PW-400 was chosen . They will provide the B-21 with a cruising speed in Mach 0,85 – 0,95, however, if necessary, the bomber can develop up to Mach 1,5 (not more than 30 minutes).
The bomber’s ammunition will likely include several air-to-air missiles in case of self-defense (the B-21 has insufficient maneuverability) when attacking enemy fighters. Chinese experts admit that at present, the PLA Air Force is capable of intercepting enemy aircraft at high altitudes only thanks to the Russian Su-30MKK and Su-30MK2. According to PRC media reports, “Jian-10” in terms of rate of climb and practical ceiling does not protect the air borders of the state from violators.
Apparatus of great value
It is known that Northrop Grumman Corporation won the development contract for B-21. It is estimated at 80 billion dollars, and the cost of one production machine will be 564 million dollars (equivalent to five F-35 fighter jets). According to the plans, the first copy should be commissioned by the US Air Force through 10 years, it is supposed to build from 80 to 100 (according to other data - 120) machines. For comparison: the cost of the strategic bomber B-2 Spirit - 1,157 billion dollars.
To make development cheaper, the designers of Northrop Grumman borrow some parts from proven machines:
from the F-35 fighter - engine, on-board computer, cockpit equipment (multi-function displays), communication systems, navigation (with double redundancy), weapon control, pilot life support;
from the strategic bomber B-2 - radar, landing gear, bomb cover, power supply system and pilot rescue;
from F-15E - wiring diagram, fuel system;
from the EW F / A-18E / F aircraft - hydraulics.
There will also be used some elements of the design of the chassis of the "Boeing-737". All this will significantly reduce the cost of the rear service of the B-21 bomber. It is known that the price of one B-2 departure during the period of hostilities in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan was 150 million dollars.
According to PLA Air Force experts, the take-off mass of the bomber in question is 120 tons, but according to US media, it is reduced to 68 – 80 tons, that is, the bomb load can vary from 5,5 to 9,1 tons, and the combat patrol radius will not exceed 4000 kilometers. It should be noted that even if the weight of the B-21 is 120 tons, it will be the easiest strategic bomber of the US Air Force. According to Chinese experts, he will be equipped with an “intelligent” co-pilot who will provide assistance to the crew in laying the course, analyzing the situation, choosing the optimal weaponry, and will also provide voice alerts about the condition of the onboard systems.
And so the paint does not peel off
American designers are faced with several complex tasks, on the solution of which depends on the low-visibility or even invisibility of the B-21 in the radar and optical spectrum.
It is necessary to check the quality of new radio absorbing materials that will cover the surface of the bomber. Such compounds very quickly lose their properties at high temperatures and heavy rainfall, they can be ignited by lightning. Experts of Lockheed Martin Corp. are refining the composition of the radio-absorbing material for F-35, since its significant burnup was found in the area of the nozzle.
The only shop in which it is possible to apply a radar absorbing coating is located at AB Whiteman. It should be noted that, until now, US Air Force specialists regularly “repaint” existing B-2 and experiment with chemical compounds in an attempt to find the most wear-resistant material, since the existing mixtures lose their properties after every 20 flight, significant chipping is observed on the fuselage. coverage areas, which leads to an increase in radar-visible area.
On B-21 it should not exceed 0,7 square meter, this is a critical level when operating in the area of modern air defense systems. With a radar of noticeable area of five square meters, it makes no sense to direct the aircraft to perform a combat mission. In the case of long-term parking at the B-21 airfield, it will be necessary to cover the hangar for inspections and repair of the cover.
American chemists need to develop a coating composition that, on the one hand, would provide radar stealth, and on the other - would allow to diffuse sunlight.
In conclusion, we note that only individual PLA radar control brigades are equipped with modern JY-26 meter radars, which are capable of detecting B-21, F-22 and F-35 aircraft at a distance of 500 kilometers.
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