The supersonic bomber B-1, embodying the achievements of the American aviation science and technology of the 1970s and 1980s, apparently, will not reach the fame of its famous subsonic predecessor Boeing B-52. This is by no means connected with. the viciousness of another concept - a multi-mode aircraft, economical in subsonic cruising at high altitude and capable of overcoming air defense at high and low altitudes with high combat load and high speed. The same concept is embodied in the Russian Tu-160 and, in spite of the "competition" from the appearance of specialized subtle strike aircraft that have appeared in recent years, will, in our opinion, be effective for many more years. The disadvantages of V-1 are more likely associated with a not very successful constructive implementation of the concept in the process of aircraft development. The desire of designers at the initial stage of design to maximize compact the layout of the aircraft made it difficult to replace weapons and an increase in load when it was required in revising the appearance of a serial sample. Technical difficulties with the complex of electronic equipment, which was never brought to the level originally required, also played their part, all the time “going off-scale” costs due to the complexity of the tasks.
Scheme of the aircraft B-1A
Tu-95 airplane in Tu-142 version
To a large extent, the problems with B-1 were caused by external circumstances that accompanied its development, which took a record time - 16 years (from the beginning of the design of experimental aircraft in 1970) to the introduction of production vehicles into 1986. And given the fact that design studies began as early as 1961, the duration of the entire aircraft creation program reached 25 years. This made it possible for the wits to interpret the official name of the AMSA program (Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft — the Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft) as America's Most Studied Aircraft.
The reasons for the “protracted construction” lie, first of all, in the variability of the political climate, the complexity and ambiguity of the military-political situation in the world, emerging from the second half of the 1950-s. Moreover, the situation in the USSR and the USA was in many respects similar. The appearance of the first intercontinental ballistic missiles (P-7 in the USSR in 1955 and Atlas in the USA in 1959) sharply cooled the interest of the military-political leadership in strategic bombers, which, compared to the ICBM, had a long time to deliver nuclear weapons to the target. Improvement of anti-aircraft missile systems (C-75 in the USSR, Nike Hercules in the USA) meant the collapse of the concept of a purely high-altitude bomber. Under these conditions, both in our country and in the USA, priority was given to the further development of ICBMs and SLBMs, and the projects of new strategic bombers created by that time were closed: in 1959, the development of the American “three-wing” Valkyrie as a high-altitude bomber was stopped 1960. Works on the M-50 and M-56 aircraft of the OKB VMMyasishchev were curtailed. The Americans also cut off the mass production of the X-NUMX-developed Conwer B-1956 Hustler medium supersonic bomber (by the beginning of the 58, the 1960 originally planned for building the aircraft was reduced to 290, which were made in 116-1959 and removed from service in 1962). At the same time, the United States announced (1970) a transition from the military-political doctrine of “massive retaliation”, the goals of which (creation of a reliable strategic triad) were achieved, to a “flexible response” strategy that provided for the use of armed forces depending on the scale of the conflict . In the field of aviation priorities were given to tactical forces.
Configurations studied by the AMSA program, alongside the B-1 model
Healthy conservatism did not allow immediately to completely and irrevocably abandon the concept of a completely high-altitude strategic bomber. In the US, the decision is made to continue the program of the North American XB-70 Valkyrie, although for research purposes with the construction of only two experimental samples. Of course, he meant the probability of his addition to the bomber in the event of a change in the situation, and it was not for nothing that the Valkyrie’s tests in the USSR were viewed as a real threat. In the Soviet Union, with the 1962, an analogue of the B-70 was created - the innovative "three-winged" experimental T-4 ("weaving") airplane of the P.O. Sukhoi design, which rose into the air in 1972, but related, unlike "Valkyrie ”, To the category of medium bombers (maximum take-off weight of 135 t, practical range 4000 km, compared to the calculated 244 t and 12000 km from B-70).
In 1965, the supersonic interceptor Tu-128 (intercept line 600-965 km) was adopted for armament of air defense of the USSR, somewhat later - the C-200 “Angara” air defense missile (target range to 300 km at altitudes up to 35 km) intended for defeats of the strategic aviation of the enemy at long ranges and heights to the line of bombing. At the same time, the USSR had no effective means of fighting low-altitude targets. The low-altitude C-1960 air defense system “Neva”, also created in the 125-ies, had a range of only up to 10 km with a maximum speed of 1500 km / h.
Pipe model of the aircraft B-1. Right - Model of a B-1 aircraft under construction.
The first experienced В-1А during the official ceremony on the occasion of the end of its construction
Under these conditions, the United States finally concluded that the main focus on low-altitude high-speed aircraft was necessary. Work began to reduce the height of the air defense breakthrough with the available strategic B-52, and in 1967 the FB-111 was developed based on the F-111 fighter-bomber with the following system (at a height of up to 90) terrain, which, despite the very modest range and the load was called a strategic bomber. It was intended for use from forward-based airfields. In the Soviet Union, they did not engage in reducing the height of the strategic Tu-95, but instead in 1971 they created a new missile carrier Tu-22М, which, compared to the FB-111, has a significantly higher take-off mass (124 and 53 t, respectively) and a load . The FB-111 and Tu-22M were the first heavy aircraft with a variable sweep wing, which in 1960's was considered a radical technical innovation and later became a distinctive feature of both the strategic Tu-160 and B-1, as well as a number of tactical aircraft.
The FB-111 was considered by Americans as an intermediate vehicle designed to fill the “gap” before the full-fledged strategic low-altitude bomber entered service. The United States began to research the aircraft already in 1961. A series of research programs were carried out to form its 1965 look: SLAB (Subsonic Low Altitude Bomber - subsonic low-altitude bomber), ERSA (Extended Range Strategic Aircraft - strategic aircraft with increased range flight), LAMP (Low Altitude Manned Penetrator - low altitude manned JIA air defense breakthrough), AMP (Advanced Manned Penetrator - advanced manned air defense breakthrough LA) and AMPSS (Advanced Manned Penetrating Strategic System air defense). Studies have confirmed that successful penetration to the highly staged objects of the Soviet Union requires a high subsonic speed at low altitude, and showed that to increase the flexibility of the aircraft and reduce its flight time through poorly protected zones, it may be necessary to have a moderate supersonic speed at high altitude.
The first B-1 A with the wing deflected back makes a turn with a climb
B-25 "Mitchell" bomber
These principles formed the basis of a new research program that began in 1965, the already mentioned AMSA aircraft. It is not known how long the work would have remained in the research stage, but in 1969, the so-called “Prediction” program, which was held in the US Air Force with 1962, finally ended, which put an end to the discussion on whether strategic bombers were outdated. The unequivocal and long-term advantages of the manned strategic JIA were confirmed, the retention of long-range bombers as part of the strategic nuclear triad (along with the ICBM and SLBM), e. also use in ordinary conflicts. The conclusions of the Air Force were in line with the “realistic deterrence”, which was being prepared by the then American military strategy, officially adopted in 1971 and based on achieving superiority in strategic armaments and “from a position of strength” negotiations. The formation of the military and political leadership of the United States, in turn, was undoubtedly influenced by the introduction of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia (August 1968), the large-scale use of B-52 bombers in the then war in Southeast Asia, and the approach to the end of the 1960 of the Soviet Union to parity with the United States in the field of ICBMs and SLBMs. All these factors "worked" on strategic aviation, showing its need for "demonstrating power", applicability in non-nuclear wars, and finally, the desirability of strengthening it for "safety net" in case you can not get ahead in the field of ballistic missiles.
Fighter North American F-86 "Saber"
Fighter MiG-15 OKB im.A.I.Mikoyana - the main rival of the aircraft F-86
After the end of the period of uncertainty, events developed dynamically. In May, 1969 AMSA received the official designation B-1 and, following the development of a technical specification for the US Air Force, issued in November 1969, a request for proposals for an airplane development program. Technical proposals were submitted by Boeing, General Dynamic and North American Rockwell (simply called North American before merging with Rockwell Standard Corporation in 1967), which had previously conducted research on the AMSA program, and 5 in June 1970 by North American Rockwell, which has done so time to change its name to Rockwell International, received a contract for design work, construction and testing of prototype aircraft, the first of which made the first flight of 23 December 1974.
North American, formed in 1928 and engaged in the production of aircraft in 1934, before B-1 had only two serial bomber. The first - the twin-engine medium B-25 "Mitchell", created in 1939, - was supplied to the Soviet Union in considerable quantity by Lend-Lease and was well mastered in the Soviet Air Force. The second, the B-45 Tornado (1947), became the first American four-engine jet bomber. The basis of the same activities of the company in the field of aviation were fighters, some of which are among the major world achievements. The Mustang P-51 fighter, built by the 15,6 thousand series (from 42,7 thousand aircraft manufactured by the company during the Second World War, including the 9,8 thousand Mitchell bombers), does not need to be introduced. In the post-war years, North Amerikens won the fame of F-86 Saber fighter jets and Super Saber F-100 fighters - worthy rivals of the Soviet MiGs in many local conflicts. The creation of the B-1 was immediately preceded by the experimental X-15 hypersonic (1959), the F-108 “Rapier” “three-winged” interceptor (the project, the end of 1950-s) and the Valkyrie (1964), already repeatedly mentioned, experience development of which, apparently, led the company to success in the competition for B-1. Perhaps, the major works of the company in rocket and space technology also played a role (in particular, on the Navajo XSM-64 cruise missile, an analogue of the Soviet Storm, created in 1950's under the guidance of S.Lavochkin).
The second B-1A in the afterburner picks up speed
B-1 Bottom Tail with Silks for Flow Studies
The third B-1 A over the Mojave Desert at low altitude (150 m)
The appearance of B-1, which, as we see, in “reliable hands”, determined the following basic requirements: high survival rate of a fleet of bombers in the event of a first strike by a potential enemy, a long subsonic cruise flight over a long range, deep penetration into the airspace of the enemy. To overcome the B-1 bomber, the existing and forecasted enemy air defenses have developed two calculated flight profiles: the main one - with high subsonic flight speed on the ground and the alternative - with supersonic flight speed at high altitude. In both cases, there was an associated refueling and landing at NATO's European airport (in Turkey or Italy). The aircraft was optimized to perform the main design profile, the alternative - from the beginning of the design was considered as an additional one that increases the flexibility of application in the insufficiently defined conditions of the future. Later, in the process of developing the project, most of the changes that were made to limit its cost were made due to the ability of a long supersonic flight.
Assembling the center of the first B-1 B. Right - The final stage of the assembly B-1 B
B-1 A on display at Farnborough on 1982.
Thus, supersonic flight for the B-1 concept has always been a secondary factor derived from the excess thrust of engines. This is the fundamental difference between the American B-1 and the Russian Tu-160, for which supersonic flight is the most important feature that allows you to effectively deal with sea moving targets.
The B-1 has a variable sweep wing (CIS), developed on the basis of the NASA database, which was previously used to create the F-111. The ICC was considered a necessary component of the B-1 already by 1967 at the stage of the AMSA program. Actually, at the same time, the appearance of the bomber was defined: a normal aerodynamic configuration with a single fin tail and four engines. The 1967 project envisaged a carrying case with “package” placement of engines in the near-rear aft and pairwise vertical installation of air intakes, and the high-positioned wing in the maximum sweep position (75 °) formed a single bearing surface with a stabilizer (then popular idea of transition to the tailless circuit ). In 1968, the fuselage has already acquired more traditional outlines, the engines are shifted to the central part (to reduce problems with balancing the aircraft when the combat load drops), the wing in the deflected position is separated from the stabilizer. The 1969 configuration actually reflected the B-1 aircraft scheme familiar to us today: the wing is low-lying, the engines are arranged in pairs in the winged nacelles with horizontal placement of air intakes, the front surfaces of the vibration damping system are installed. The AMSA program required that the new aircraft should be superior to the existing B-52 in terms of the “combat load / flight range” characteristics. The 1967 project outlined a calculated take-off weight of about 107 t, which clearly did not meet this requirement, however, in 1968-1969. It has been upgraded to 160 and more.
Modified B-1 A used in the B-1 B test program
Rollout of the first serial B-1 B
According to the TK, the B-1 bomber should have a high accuracy of defeating military and industrial facilities both from a relatively large distance and at direct overshoot of the target. To do this, it was supposed to equip SRAM guided missiles (initially planned 32 SD, then 24 in three weapons bays), as well as free-falling nuclear and conventional bombs. Planned use and cruise missiles AGM-86A (ALCM-A) with a relatively short range.
It was planned to build a B-244 1 aircraft (including four experimental ones) to replace the B-52 aircraft to 1981, but the program flow was interrupted. 30 June 1977. US President Carter, who took office shortly before, announced the decision not to authorize the mass production of B-1 aircraft. Politically, such a move reflected a tendency to defuse international tensions supported by the Americans (according to a Harris service in January 1977, 42% of Americans were opposed to the B-1 bomber) and efforts to ratify the SALT-2 treaty .
Militarily, at the official level, this decision was justified by the successes in creating long-range cruise missiles, which made possible the solution of a significant part of the tasks assigned to the air defense breakthrough bombers when planning a war with nuclear weapons. The defeat of previously reconnoitered targets with the launch of weapons without entering the aircraft carrier in the zone of action of air defense weapons was made possible by the creation of ALCM-B missiles instead of ALCM-A. The corresponding increase in firing range (2400 km instead of 1600 km) was due to the greater mass and, consequently, the length of the rocket (more than 6 m instead of 4,27 m), which gave rise to the B-1 A weapon system problem, the design of which was not designed for it.
Another important reason, as it became clear later, was a technological “breakthrough” in the field of airplanes with low levels of unmasking traits: by the middle of 1976, the first successes were achieved in the secret program “Hev Blue”, launched in 1973 and later the creation of an unobtrusive Lockheed F-117 strike aircraft. Obviously, the Stealth technique had a huge potential for a strategic bomber, presenting an alternative and, perhaps, more effective way of overcoming the enemy’s air defenses, and therefore questioning the whole concept of the B-1 as a low-altitude breakthrough aircraft.
By configuration, B-1 B is almost the same as B-1 A
Scheme of the aircraft B-1 B
The first serial В-1 В taxiing to the start at Edward Air Base
Nevertheless, the flight tests of the experienced B-1 bomber were continued under the BRE program (Bomber Penetration Evaluation), and Rockwell offered the B-1 family of options under the names NTP (Near Term Penetrator - the aircraft of the near future for a breakthrough Air Defense), SWL (Strategic Weapons Launcher - aircraft carrier of strategic weapons), SMS (Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft - aircraft carrier KP) and MRB (Multi Role Bomber - multipurpose bomber). These projects, which included the creation of a subsonic cheaper aircraft with a fixed sweep 25 ° wing, were not approved for development.
Initial studies have shown that creating an unobtrusive strategic bomber poses a significant technical risk due to the use of radically new layout solutions and structural materials. For a thorough and comprehensive development of technology "Stele" required a long time, which could not be determined accurately enough. In this state of affairs, there were two possible ways: either take a risk and, abandoning B-1, concentrate all efforts on a subtle plane, or use B-1 or one of the modern technology bombers as an interim measure without haste doing fine-tuning promising unobtrusive machine.
B-1 B from Squadron based in Ellsworth (South Carolina)
Landing serial B-1 B
B-1 B drives to the parking lot after a night training departure
B-1 B structure division scheme
A similar situation took shape ten years later, after the collapse of the USSR, it is likely that the United States would take the first path. It is possible that there were some fluctuations in the Carter administration until the end of 1979, because the discharge was still formally continued. However, after December 1979 - the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan - there was virtually no alternative, even under Carter. The coming to power in 1980 of Reagan, who led the “crusade against the evil empire” and brought with it another military-political doctrine — the strategy of “direct confrontation” adopted in 1981 (as we see in the US, the doctrines changed from “iron” "Once every 10 years), - put the final point in these events. Readers remember, probably, Reagan's “joke”, pronounced by him in August of 1984 during a microphone test at a radio studio: “American fellow citizens! I am glad to inform you that I have just signed a decree forever declaring Russia outlawed. The bombardment will begin in five minutes. ”
To be continued ...