UFO flew over Moscow,
Gilbert Wells was right. Aliens. War of the Worlds. They really exist. Unidentified! Flying! Objects! A phenomenon, a ghost, a strange anomaly, whose appearance contradicts all our ideas about aviation technique.
- The object disappeared from the radar screens!
- Raise interceptors, you need to explore the airspace.
- I'm half a second. Radar "MiG" does not see the target. Heat finder is useless!
According to experts from the RAND analytical center, a link of three B-2 stealth bombers is able to stop the Soviet offensive tank divisions, with impunity destroying up to 350 units of armored vehicles in one flight!
"The parabolic antenna of the radar H-019 distinguishes B-2 even against the background of the earth" - The scandalous revelation of Larry Nielsen was the subject of heated debate among aviators. Nielsen is not a simple analyst. This is a high-class specialist, test pilot of the US Air Force, who happened to take part in the testing of the MiG-29. The plane fell into the hands of Americans immediately after the unification of Germany and gave the Pentagon many surprises - familiarity with the new Soviet fighter almost put an end to the fate of the “invisible”.
The most expensive plane in stories aviation, a fantastic “flying saucer”, capable of overcoming any air defense system and delivering a fatal blow to the very heart of the enemy. Meet today's hero - a strategic stealth bomber B-2 "Spirit"! Hot breath of the Cold War. Ghost plane born of the inflamed imagination of the IDF mystifiers. Super hero left without a super enemy.
Around the B-2 rotates so many mysterious myths, legends and outright delusions that there is no way to determine what this plane really is. Terrible winged ship or useless "vundervafel"? But all the secret sooner or later becomes clear - in the 15 years of operation of the B-2 stealth bombers, enough information was leaked out in the open press to draw certain conclusions about these aircraft.
B-2 looks bad
Noticed correctly - the appearance of a stealth bomber as if borrowed from science fiction. When viewed from the Earth - "Spirit" is similar to a racing patch of black blanket. Flying scat. Fantastic mezvezvedny ship. In profile - a true “flying saucer”, flat, slippery, as if flattened by a blow of a sledgehammer - without the usual fuselage and tail unit. Impressive.
The strange appearance of the aircraft is just an aerodynamic "flying wing" scheme, known long before the appearance of the American Stealth. The scheme has its own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. The lack of tail feathers does not prevent the “flying wing” from laying bends and twisting pirouettes: contrary to a common misconception, planes do not change course at all with the help of the vertical rudder on the tail fin - it performs only a supporting role. The main task of the keel - flight stabilization.
Turning is always performed by the roll of the aircraft - at the same time, on the "lower" wing, the lifting force decreases, on the "upper" increases, as a result, the "upper" wing "turns" the aircraft in the right direction. “Wing load” is one of the most important parameters in aviation — the less kg per square meter of surface, the easier it is for the aircraft to “deploy”; accordingly, maneuverability improves.
The “flying wing” spins the pirouettes coolly, but doesn’t keep up with the course at all - the absence of a vertical keel makes itself felt. The B-2 control would not have been possible without the use of automation and an electrical remote control system: numerous sensors continuously monitor the position of the aircraft in space and every second give corrective pulses to the elements of the wing mechanization.
It is fair to note that few of the modern aircraft can be controlled "manually" - the same statically unstable Su-27 is also unrealistic to fly without the help of automation.
Air refueling requires delicate control of the aircraft
A similar plane existed even 70 years ago - we are talking about the project of the German fighter-bomber "Horten" Ho.229 (launched in serial production in the spring of the year 1945). The aircraft designers, the Horten brothers, chose this scheme, based on their personal preferences — a sleek, streamlined “wing-wing” was fully consistent with their ideas about a high-speed jet bomber. Unexpectedly, it turned out that Ho.229 has a different, equally important quality - reduced visibility for enemy radars.
It is possible that the specialists of the Corporation “Northrop” were inspired by the works of their German colleagues. However, in terms of technology, B-2 and Ho.229 differ in the same way as an elephant from pterodactyl.
The Pentagon has spent 2 billion dollars on an aircraft that is not capable of using cruise missiles. Incredible! How could this happen?
American capitalists are pragmatic people. They will examine every cent of the world before investing in any project. The strategic stealth bomber was under special control of the Congress, and, at first, seemed to be a fully justified decision with fantastic prospects. The situation is reflected in the following illustration:
According to the calculations of the US military, to overcome the Soviet-style air defense system and attack the targets deep in the enemy’s territory, the F-16 fighter-bombers (the estimated number of machines of the attack group is 32 units, using high-precision weapons - 16 units) will require:
- Escort from X-Numx fighter F-16 "Eagle";
- A group of jammers from 4 EF-111 EW-Raven;
- the anti-aircraft defense suppression group of X-Numx airplanes F-8G, the so-called. "Wild Lasky";
- and an armada of tankers to provide all this honest company with fuel - 15 fat-bellied KC-135 “Stratotanker”.
An equivalent strike can be inflicted on X-NUMX stealth aircraft, the F-8 Nighthawk, with the support of two air tankers. But the application of the B-117 looks particularly impressive - just two aircraft are enough to perform the same task, while the “Spirit”, due to its strategic flight range, does not need air tankers!
The task, which requires the 50-60 of conventional aircraft (attack, cover fighters, EW systems) can be performed just two stealth cars! Savings are obvious.
The trick is that the US congressmen and the military were the victims of fraud (accidental or intentional - in this case it does not matter). In front of people who are not well versed in radio engineering and the diffraction of electromagnetic waves, lectures on the creation of an "inconspicuous aircraft" were read regularly - the luminaries of American science promised each other how to implement such a project in practice. Practically undetectable and invulnerable aircraft, which does not require an escort and providing means.
The result of the efforts of Northrop specialists turned out to be more than doubtful: the effective scattering area B-2 is estimated in the interval from 0,0014 to 0,1 square. meters (for comparison, the EPR fighters of the Su-27 family is within 3-4 square meters.). It would seem that the B-2 "Spirit" demonstrates a radical decrease in the ESR, compared with conventional machines.
Flat forms, lack of a vertical keel, widespread introduction of radio-absorbing materials, "zigzag" joints of parts. A huge plane looks on the radar like a tiny bird!
However, not everything is so simple: a small EPR stealth bomber is not a guarantee of the safety of the B-2. The reduction of the EPR provides some protection against obsolete means of detection and air defense systems, but modern radars see such an object (EPR = 0,1 sq. M) at a distance of tens of kilometers. There are problems with the infrared range - despite all the tricks of the engineers (the location of the engines on the upper surface of the wing, a special form of nozzles that forms a "flat" jet for quick cooling of the combustion products) - despite all the efforts, it was impossible to completely hide the red-hot jet exhaust.
According to eyewitnesses (the plane was considered a couple of times in thermal imagers at international air shows), from some angles, "Spirit" shines noticeably in the IR range. Finally, an enemy fighter pilot can visually detect "Spirit" - in this case, a helpless bomber is doomed.
The risk of being discovered (therefore, being destroyed) is still great. No one in their right mind and good memory will send the B-2 "Spirit" alone to the zone of the C-300 SAM or enemy fighter aircraft. In practice, a serious air defense breakthrough is carried out using dozens of specialized F-16CJ, EA-18 “Growler”, EC-130 “Compass Call” aircraft, etc. Enemy air defense systems are being “crushed” by massive volleys of anti-radar missiles, Tomahawk SLCM, squalls of radio-electronic interference, and Hellfire from unmanned aerial vehicles. In this case, the "invisible" B-2 has no clear advantages over conventional aircraft, at the same time, its use is inefficient and ruinous.
In the same place, where the resistance of the air force and air defense of the enemy is minimized (Afghanistan, Libya), the usual F-16 also do an excellent job. Super hero too boring in such conditions.
Who are you, B-2 stelc bomber?
The US Air Force received the usual bomber at an inflated price. No doubt, this is a serious aircraft for “establishing democracy” around the world, capable of taking 80 kg 227 bombs aboard and making a combat flight from Whiteman Air Base (Missouri) to Afghanistan and back, lasting 50 hours (with refueling in the air).
If you do not take into account its controversial "stealth" and the incredible cost, B-2 is not inferior to its legendary predecessor B-52 "Stratofortress" (according to 80's plans, by the beginning of the new century 132 "Spirit" had to completely replace the fleet " Stratospheric Fortresses "). Each of the bombers has its strengths, at the same time, “invisible” does not show clear advantages over the veteran.
The old Stratoforthress (modification B-52H) has almost twice the range, while carrying a large bomb load on the 20%.
The B-2, in turn, demonstrates a stunning set of detection tools: the AN / APQ-21 181 modulated radar, capable of scanning the underlying terrain strip 240 km wide and operating in terrain mapping mode, changed the more impressive LRIP radar from an active HEADLIGHT to 2010 radar . Pilots B-2 have at their disposal the most advanced avionics: the FLIR IR viewing system, electronic reconnaissance equipment, the HANIUAL radio altimeter with a low probability of signal interception, an inertial navigation system, an information exchange channel with reconnaissance satellites, VILSTAR communications equipment, an electronic counter system ZSR-62 , targeting equipment designed to use JDAM guided munitions, TACAN navigation system, VIR-130 radio landing system receiver and passive sensor system, signal about changing the situation overboard.
Another question is why the B-2 "Spirit" needed a super-radar with AFAR - this contradicts the whole concept of using the "inconspicuous aircraft." Just one impulse - and enemy RT intelligence systems spotted the aircraft's location. For example, the famous colleague of "Spirit" - F-117, did not have on-board radar at all. Only passive means of collecting information.
Finally, a veteran B-52 can be equipped with an outboard sighting and navigation container (for example, LITENING) - in this case, the capabilities of the old bomb carrier correspond to any modern aircraft.
The "invisible" has one more paradoxical, at first glance, advantage - it is less dependent on weather conditions! Unlike the bulky B-52 with long and fragile wing planes, the B-2 can make a safe landing with side wind blowing at a speed of 40 m / s.
B-2 "Spirit" is extremely automated. The crew of a large strategic bomber consists of only two pilots! (B-52 requires 5 people to control, B-1B crew consists of 4 people).
Alas, this is a weak excuse for Spirit. The cost of a stealth bomber is much higher than that of any of these vehicles. B-2 basing is possible only in a special hangar with an artificially maintained microclimate - otherwise, ultraviolet radiation will damage the aircraft’s radio absorbing coating. There are not so many air bases on Earth where B-2 can be deployed for a long time - according to official data, the corresponding infrastructure is only available at Whiteman air bases (US territory), Anderson (Guam Island, Pacific Ocean) and Diego Garcia (Chagos Archipelago, 500 miles south Seychelles, Indian Ocean).
Of course, it’s funny to see how Americans care about their expensive “toys”, however, a reverent attitude to aircraft engineering is a very useful tradition, the main thing is not to go to extremes. Finally, the special guard protects the “stealth” not only from sunlight, but also from terrorist attacks and other force majeure situations. It is reported that in the event of a fire, the fire extinguishing system is capable of filling the aircraft with flaming foam in 20 seconds.
Ammunition. The most intriguing moment. The maximum combat load of a stealth bomber reaches 23 tons (after modernization, an increase to 27 tons is expected). However, bombs cannot be “poured” into the bomb bay as concrete. In practice, the real combat load of the B-2 is within 18 tons. What does it mean?
- 80 free-fall 500-pound bombs Mk.82
- or 16 atomic bombs B-61
- or 36 cluster munitions of the CBU line
- or 12 large-caliber bombs JDAM (ersatz-kit GPS, which turns conventional ammunition into high-precision weapons)
- or laser-guided 8 guided bombs with a GBU-27 Paveway III (calculated weight 907 kg).
Honestly, I have no assumptions about how the myth appeared that B-2 is not capable of using air-based cruise missiles. After all, from the carrier, in this case, not too much is needed - just hang up the ammunition in the bomb bay and deliver it to the point of discharge.
For example, the composition of the B-2 armament may look like this: AGM-8 TSSAM tactical cruise missiles with low radar visibility or 137 AGM-8 JASSM or 158 cruise missiles of the AGM-8 JSOW cruise missiles.
The launch of the cruise missile AGM-158 JASSM
However, the initial plans to equip the Spirit with the AGM-129 super-rocket with a thermonuclear warhead remained unfulfilled - after the collapse of the USSR, the B-52 remains the only carrier of this ammunition (the rockets are suspended from the underwing pylon).
With regard to comparing the B-2 with its peer - supersonic strategic bomber B-1B "Lancer", there is no doubt: "Lancer" looks more preferable. B-1B has almost a 2 times greater combat load (30 + tons in the internal bomb compartments, without taking into account the external weapon suspension), is capable of developing supersonic speed, has the ability to suspend additional sighting equipment (SNIPER XR containers for high-altitude bombing). In the design of the "Lancer" technology is also widely used to reduce visibility, while the B-1B is 5 times less!
Combat career B-2
The first combat use of the B-2 took place in the 1999 year - “stealth bombers” dropped JDAM precision bombs to Yugoslavia around 600. Non-stop flights were carried out from the United States.
During the invasion of Iraq (2003 year), the B-2 "Spirit" worked with the advanced Diego Garcia airbase in the Indian Ocean, part of the aircraft was still working out ultra-long combat missions from the United States. Official statistics - 49 combat missions, 300 tons of dropped ammunition.
In 2011, three cars took part in raids on Libya, attacking ground targets 45.
Well, the combat experience of B-2 is quite a lot, and, moreover, “Spirits” were built with a tiny series of just 21 units.
Also, according to official data, during operation, one vehicle of this type was lost - February 23 2008, the plane with the personal name "Spirit of Kansas" crashed immediately after takeoff from the air base on the island of Guam. Both crew members managed to eject.
The history of the B-2 bomber is a story about how not to make planes. Despite a certain propaganda role, the development of new technologies and limited participation in military conflicts, Spirits have done more damage to the US budget than to opponents of the Pentagon. The plane turned out to be exclusively expensive (the cost of each of the 21 built "Spirits", taking into account research and development, exceeded 2 billion dollars in 1997 prices of the year) and is ineffective in the conditions of modern local conflicts. It is difficult to say how justified the use of stealth technology is, but more and more countries are striving to use these solutions in the design of aviation and naval technology. Obviously, in “stealth” there is a rational grain - another thing is how well the achieved result corresponds to the costs.
Facts and figures: