The complexity and specificity of the combat use of strategic bombers has led to the fact that at the moment such equipment is used and developed only by Russia, the United States and China. Other states that had similar equipment in service, refused it. Despite current trends in the world, the Russian, American and Chinese air forces continue to operate such aircraft. In addition, work is underway to create new long-range bombers, designed to replace the existing equipment. Consider new projects in this area.
Russia - PAK DA
The plans of the Russian military department imply the repair and modernization of the existing equipment, which will allow its operation to continue. Also, a start has been given to the development of a completely new aircraft with the required characteristics. In the long term, this machine will have to supplement and then replace part of the existing equipment. The new domestic project is known under the name "Advanced Aviation Complex of Long-Range Aviation" (PAK DA).
The alleged appearance of the PAK YES. Photo Militaryrussia.ru
The possibility of creating a new long-range bomber and the appearance of such a machine were considered for a long time, but until a certain time these works had no prospects. Only in the 2007-2008 years began preparations for the future development of the project, which received the symbol PAK DA. It was originally planned that the first aircraft of the new type will be built by the middle of the tenths, and in a few years its operation will begin. In the future, the deadlines for completing the work were repeatedly adjusted.
From the reports of officials it follows that before the 2013, the aviation industry was engaged in the formation of the principal appearance of a promising aircraft. Soon it was planned to begin the development of the project with the definition of all the necessary features of the structure. At that time, the plans meant the start of mass production in the early twenties. In addition, some details of the technical appearance of the new machine were revealed.
It was argued that the new strategic bomber PAK DA will be subsonic. In addition, officials spoke about the superiority of this car over the existing Tu-160 in terms of weight and capabilities of the combat load. Such information about the project could be additional evidence in favor of one of the common versions of the possible appearance of the aircraft. There is a widespread version that the PAK DA will be built according to the “flying wing” scheme, which will give it certain advantages over other equipment. First of all, this architecture allows to increase the internal volume of the structure, ensuring the growth of the payload and fuel supply. In addition, it is possible to reduce visibility for the detection of the enemy.
On the basis of published data and various estimates, an assumption was made about the possibility of creating an aircraft with a take-off weight of no more than 150 t and a payload of at least 30 t. order 15-20 t.
In the middle of 2015, it became known that the customer and industry experts had completed preliminary work on the engine for PAK DA, after which a contract was signed for a preliminary design of the required product. Draft design of the engine required to submit before the end of the year. Approximate characteristics of this system, however, were not called.
The maximum speed of the new car can be estimated at 1000-1100 km / h with the possibility of cruising at lower speeds. The range must be greater than 11-12 thousand. Km. Like other domestic long-range bombers, the PAK DA will have to receive an in-flight refueling system capable of significantly increasing the flight range.
There is reason to believe that the PAK DA can carry some weapons systems already used by long-range aircraft. Thus, it is possible to preserve the possibility of using air-launched cruise missiles of the X-55 family, as well as the use of new X-101. Earlier it was claimed that under the new program it is planned to create new models of high-precision guided weapons of the air-to-surface and air-to-air classes. Reported some progress in creating such systems.
Due to the numerous difficulties that accompany the creation of all new projects, the timeline for the implementation of the PAK DA program has repeatedly shifted. Thus, at the time of the commencement of the preliminary work, it was claimed that the first flight of the prototype aircraft would take place in 2015. In the future, these terms were repeatedly postponed. According to the latest reports related to last year, the first test flight of the new machine is to be held in 2019 year. By 2023, it is planned to complete the tests and begin mass production of equipment. In addition, it was mentioned that in 2023-24 the first flight of a bomber equipped with standard engines should take place.
According to recent reports, the development of the project PAK DA continues. The works are occupied by the firm "Tupolev" and a number of other scientific and design organizations of the aviation industry. At the moment, the military and contractors are keeping secrecy and are not in a hurry to disclose the details of the new project. As a result, many questions remain unanswered, which provokes the emergence of various assumptions, forecasts, etc.
About three years are left before the scheduled date of the first flight of the PAK DA bomber. This may mean that the design is successfully moving ahead and brings closer the start of construction of the prototype aircraft. Accordingly, the possible announcement of the basic information about the project, which will close some of the existing issues, however, will be the reason for new disputes and discussions is approaching.
Due to the lack of frequent reports on the progress of the PAK DA project and its technical details, it remains only to wait news and hope that the development of a new strategic bomber will not face new problems that could lead to another schedule change. At the moment, we recall, the first flight of a prototype aircraft is scheduled for the end of this decade, and by the mid-twenties, the Air Force will begin mastering serial equipment.
USA - B-21
The American project to create a new long-range bomber started in the middle of the two thousandth, but so far has not led to the emergence of a new technology. During this time, the project managed to change several names: Bomber 2018 (for the year of the proposed first flight), Next-Generation Bomber (NGB) and, finally, Long-Range Strike - Bomber (LRS-B). Under the last name, the project has reached the stage of choosing a development organization and is likely to be brought up to the required mass production with subsequent supplies of equipment to the air force.
During the existence of the project, requirements for new aircraft were issued, which have repeatedly undergone certain changes. According to the available data, individual points of the requirements were adjusted, while the main features of the technical specifications remained unchanged. In accordance with the latest version of the technical specification, issued a few years ago, the contracting companies had to create their own versions of preliminary projects, which were then required to submit to the customer for consideration.
The desire to participate in the new program was expressed by two developers. One of the variants of the LRS-B project was to be developed by Northrop Grumman, and the second was created jointly by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. At the required time, they completed the preliminary design and submitted the necessary documentation to the Pentagon for comparison and selection of the developer of a full-fledged project.
The decision of the commission responsible for the selection of the contractor was originally planned to be announced in the second quarter of 2015. Nevertheless, this event was postponed several times for one reason or another. Only at the end of October 2015, the US Air Force announced the selection of the winner of the competition. The contract to develop a promising bomber decided to give the company Northrop Grumman. A few days after the announcement of such a decision, Boeing and Lockheed Martin filed a protest, but in February 2016 was rejected, and Northrop-Grumman specialists were able to continue working without any difficulties related to the actions of third parties and organizations.
A few months ago, the designation of a new aircraft was announced. The result of the LRS-B program will receive the official designation B-21. In addition, at the end of September, the results of the competition for the choice of the project name should be announced. Various names are offered, but so far the military has not decided on the choice.
The first contract of the Pentagon and Northrop Grumman stipulates the development of a full-fledged project with the further construction and testing of an experienced aircraft. In addition, the contract involves the construction of a certain number of bombers of the first batch. The existing contract has a value of 21,4 billion dollars. In the future, it is possible the emergence of new contracts for the supply of serial equipment, which will lead to an increase in the total cost of the project to 80 billion.
The technical details of the LRS-B / B-21 project have not yet been disclosed. Nevertheless, the company-developer has already published an image of a promising aircraft, corresponding to the current appearance of the project. The publication of the figure confirmed some earlier assumptions, and also refuted other options.
The present image shows an airplane built according to the “flying wing” scheme, with swept planes and the smoothest possible outlines. Characteristic features of the design of the drawn bomber are large air intakes in the central part of the aircraft, rectangular cantilevers and a broken rear edge of the wing. The similar appearance of the aircraft suggests that the basis of the new project is the requirements for reducing the visibility for detection tools. In addition, such an aircraft can only be subsonic.
For obvious reasons, it is not yet possible to draw any conclusions about the geometric, weight, or other parameters of a promising machine. It is already known that the aircraft B-21 can carry existing and advanced weapons of various classes. Also referred to the possibility of developing the project by creating an unmanned modification.
The existing contract implies completion of the design with subsequent testing of the prototype and the construction of the first batch of equipment. By the middle of the next decade, the United States Air Force should get the 21 new car. For the development of the project and the construction of the first batch of aircraft Northrop Grumman will receive 21,4 billion dollars at the cost of each aircraft at the level of 560 million dollars. In the future we plan to order another batch of 80 bombers. Given the development, testing, etc. 100 billions are planned to be spent on the entire construction program of 80 machines. Completion of the supply of such equipment belongs to the end of the thirties.
China - H-20
At present, the long-range aviation of the People’s Republic of China uses only H-6 bombers of various modifications, which are a further development of the Soviet Tu-16 aircraft. Despite all the innovations and improvements, such equipment can not be fully considered modern and requires replacement. A project of the strategic bomber H-20 is currently being developed for the re-equipment of the Chinese long-range aviation. Also, in some sources, the new aircraft is referred to as HX.
The Chinese army and defense industry traditionally do not rush to disclose the details of their new projects, because of which there is very little information about the promising bomber. There are only fragmentary information about the development of a new aircraft designed to replace existing technology, as well as various assumptions about its appearance and characteristics. You can also meet and assessments related to the development of the project. Such assumptions sometimes receive direct or indirect confirmation.
According to reports, the development of a promising long-range bomber began relatively long ago, at the beginning of the last decade. In 2008, it was decided to create a new project. At the same time determined the developer. The design and construction of the new machine was entrusted to Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation, which has extensive experience in creating bombers of various classes. In addition, some sources mention the involvement of the aircraft company "Shenyang".
Due to the lack of official and confirmed data, the H-20 / HX project remains a subject of controversy and speculation. With enviable regularity, more and more new publications appear in the foreign press with possible variants of the appearance of a promising machine. The lack of necessary information again leads to the fact that the most diverse, including mutually exclusive versions, are offered.
There is a version according to which the aircraft H-20, as well as the latest foreign developments in the field of long-range aviation, will be built according to the “flying wing” scheme. In this case, it will be a subsonic long-range bomber with the ability to carry existing and developed bombs and missiles of various types. Flight range is estimated at 10-11 thousand. Km. It is difficult to predict other parameters of such an aircraft.
In favor of the version of the H-20 in the form of a "flying wing" are very controversial indirect evidence. In 2011, in the United States, designer Nosir Govadi was convicted of spying for China. For a long time, he worked at Northrop Grumman and participated in the development of the B-2 Spirit aircraft. The espionage case can be considered in the context of the latest Chinese developments. In this case, the conclusion is made about the use of information obtained through N. Govadi when developing a promising long-range bomber.
During the past few years, several drawings and mock-ups depicting a different version of the promising Chinese strike aircraft have been actively discussed several times. So, in the spring of last year, two computer drawings of a certain strike aircraft came into free access. They depicted a medium-sized machine with an integral layout of the fuselage and wing, expressed wing consoles and tail tail in the form of two collapsed carinae, which also have some stabilizer functions. The drawings suggest that such an aircraft can be equipped with two turbojet engines with air intake devices on the upper surface of the fuselage, above the wing inflows.
The images show that such a bomber will be able to carry weapons on an external sling, although it is possible to use internal cargo compartments. It should be noted that the proportions of the painted aircraft may not match the expected appearance of the strategic bomber. Thus, the proposed version of the long-range bomber may actually be a new development in the field of front-line percussion machines. The Chinese industry, which is not at all surprising, does not comment on the published images and does not announce any details of the new project.
According to the popular version, at present the Chinese aviation industry is developing a new project, and by the end of this decade plans to complete the design, as well as build the first prototype. By the early twenties, the experienced H-20 could take to the air. The next few years will be spent on fine-tuning the project and preparing for mass production. The start of operation of the new bomber belongs to the 2025 year.
If such assumptions correspond to the real state of affairs, then we can expect that in the middle of the next decade, specialists and the public will be able to see the real H-20 / HX in its real form. However, it is not possible to exclude earlier leaks of information, images, drawings or photographs. Currently, such materials are not available, it remains only to expect their publication.
Three new long-range bomber projects are currently being developed. Perspective projects PAK YES, B-21 and H-20 have a number of common features, however, they are distinguished by one or other details. The most notable similarity of all three projects can be considered the start of work at about the same time. The preliminary study of three aircraft began in the second half of the last decade, and by now the projects have reached the next stages. In addition, it is impossible not to note the possible emergence of three new cars at the same time - at the end of this decade.
Another similarity of the three programs is a strict atmosphere of secrecy with the disclosure of a minimum amount of information. Despite the continuation of work over several years, a significant amount of information is still not disclosed, which does not allow to build a complete picture, but also provokes the emergence of new and new versions that may coincide with the actual results of projects or significantly differ from them.
To evaluate the similarities of the three promising aircraft in terms of technical features is not yet possible. There are only a few statements by officials and literally a couple of images, which is not enough for a full comparison. Nevertheless, it is known that Russian and American bombers may have certain similarities in the form of subsonic flight speed and the widespread use of means of reducing visibility. Whether such signs are present in the Chinese development is unknown, but it can be assumed that they exist.
New projects will be developed over the next few years. This means that new official statements, information leaks, etc., may soon appear. Each such event will allow you to create and refine the existing picture describing a particular project under consideration. Finally, by the year 2020 we should expect an official demonstration of new technology. In the meantime, it remains to wait for new messages and continue to try to determine the appearance of new strategic bombers.
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