B-1 Lancer

     Notes: The Lancer was originally conceived of in its B-1A guise in the early 1960s.  The high, fast-flying XB-70 Valkyrie was defeated before any flew into enemy territory – by rapidly-improving Russian SEAD and aircraft like the MiG-25 interceptor.  Nevertheless, the Air Force felt that there was a need for the fast bomber, but perhaps in the low-fast penetrator role. Several such studies were carried out on paper in the 1960s and 1970s, with McNamara and the DoD fighting the proposals the entire way. (They felt that the FB-111A and the B-52, together, could fulfill the high-altitude penetrator and low-altitude penetrator requirement.) Finally, Nixon’s new DoD Chief Melvin Laird broke the deadlock and directed that the last study, AMSA (Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft) be developed fully into a modern bomber.  RFPs were solicited starting in 1969, the first B-1As were built in 1971, and first flight went off in 1974.

IOC took place in 1979, with 240 originally ordered.  It was eventually intended that the B-1A would replace the B-52, B-58, and FB-111A.  The B-1 is known to its pilots as the Bone (B-one).

 

B-1A

     The B-1A had the planform of a slim, blended wing-body design with swing wings for good operation as low, medium, and high speeds and automatic wing sweep.  The fuselage flared to the rear, and the tail incorporated slab all-moving tailplanes.  There were no ailerons; the B-1A used a combination of wing slotted flaps and slats for such a purpose. Leading-edge slats improved maneuverability, particularly at low altitude.

     The engines were GE F101-100 afterburning turbofans, arranged in pairs on either side of the fuselage at the wing roots.  They were positioned as close as possible to the center of the aircraft line to provide stability if one or more engines failed, and the air intake were complicated and variable to properly feed air into the engines at both low-altitude low-Mach flight and high-altitude high-Mach flight.  The engines were, however, far enough apart to allow retraction of the main landing gear.  The three bomb bays were in the center of the aircraft and the center of the center bomb bay was at the center of gravity of the aircraft.  (Bet you can’t say that three times fast!)

     The blended wing-body had an ancillary effect – a measure of stealth. The high tailplane which was above the wings when they were fully swept contributed to this. The B-52 looked like a house on radar.  The B-1A looked like a fighter about the size of an F-15 or F-4 on radar. The leading edges were made of titanium; this not only dealt with heat as high speeds, but it just a very bit radar-absorbent.

     Eight internal fuel tanks were carried; four in the wings, and the rest in the fuselage. This allowed a copious amount of fuel carriage and thus excellent range at low  and high altitude.

     Each bomb bay was normally meant to carry a rotary launcher for a variety of weapons from SRAM missiles to ALCMs to a massive amount of 750 or 1000-pound gravity bombs.  In practice, the B-1A was stuck in the nuclear triad role, set up and loaded and only to carry standoff nuclear weapons.  The B-1A carried no defensive armament (despite the wargame Airwar having it armed with a tail Vulcan cannon stinger). It did carry a large amount of ECM, ECCM, chaff, flares, IRCM, and even corridor chaff dispensers and chaff rockets. Tied to this was a large amount of computing power for the time (it was basically the same computing setup as the Space Shuttle, though with different crew instruments and software, of course.)  Radar and navigation were state of the art for the time, including a Doppler Radar to better detect movement at range and a Doppler altimeter for assistance in low-altitude TFR flight, The B-1A essentially had radar coverage almost around the entire aircraft, missing only the 180-240-degree area on each side.

     The B-1A had four crewmembers – pilot, copilot, offensive WSO and defensive WSO.  In an emergency, the entire crew capsule separated from the aircraft and stabilized by a set of spoilers, descended on three parachutes. The capsule then served as a crew survival shelter, and was fully able to float in water.

     Though there were originally 240 ordered, President Carter cancelled the B-1A in 1977.  Carter did, however, allow testing of existing airframes to continue. However, only eight B-1As had been built by this time.

     In 1984, one B-1A was essentially internally outfitted as a B-1B, though externally and airframe-wise it remained a B-1A.  Though Reagan had re-authorized the B-1, this began the road to the B-1B.

 

B-1B Lancer

  Though President Reagan reinstated the B-1 program, the B-1 that was to be developed was a low-altitude penetrator that was very different from the B-1A,.The engines were to be less-fuel-hungry than those of the B-1A,  Avionics and software and computers were upgraded and given the task of low-altitude penetration, while still being able to condi9cts the occasional high-altitude bombing mission.

     Perhaps the biggest change was the engines, intakes and fairings. The intakes in particular were drastically simplified, and made without the variable geometry that to a great deal that made high-Mach travel possible.  Though the GE F101-GE-102 turbofans made low altitude penetration speed increase from Mach 0.86 to 0.92 (or Mach 1.2 at altitude).  The simplified air intakes could be redesigned as a result that the B-1B’s RCS decreased somewhat..

     The internal fuel carriage increased with two tanks in the wings, one in the wing sweep carriage box, and four others in the main fuselage.  In addition, the bomb bays could carry a 75,708-liter cylindrical fuel tank if necessary for long-range missions; rumors state that in the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, When the B-1Bs were required to fly from their bases in the US to their targets, B-1B’s were carrying up to two of these. Of course, the B-1B (and B-1A, for that matter) can be air-refueled, with the receptacle being just in front of the windshield.

     The B-1B has a complex avionics and weapon delivery suite known as OSA (Offensive Avionics System).  This is complimented by another integrated system, the DAS (Defensive Avionics System).  The OAS allows accurate munitions release and delivery, regardless of aircraft speed and attitude up or down. The system allows changes of target or angle of approach to the target, making changes in the munitions delivery data automatically.  Though gravity and free-fall munitions may be delivered accurately without any laser or optical assistance, the B-1B also has the assistance of a laser designator and a laser boresight capability.  However, the primary assistance for aiming freefall and gravity munitions is bombing radar.  Notably, this radar system is  separate from the TFR system, though it uses the same antenna.

     The radar system, in fact, uses the same antenna for all radar emissions, though some minor systems have their own emitters, and the radios and ECM/ECCM/IRCM have their own emitters as well. The radar can emit is 11 ways – Ground Mapping Mode, High-Res Ground Mapping mode, Velocity Update Mode, TFR, Terrain Avoidance Mode, Precision Position Update, High-Altitude Calibration, Rendezvous Beacon Mode, Standard Rendezvous Mode and Weather Detection Mode.  The different modes may change in microseconds, and in practice are continuous in all modes.

     TFR includes terrain avoidance scans to the  front and side, in addition to photo scans of the upcoming terrain in a 60-degree sweep.  The pilots may choose from a variety of TFR modes, from 610 meters to as low as 60 meters; pilots often call them a Soft Ride, Bumpy Ride, and Hard Ride.  The OAS automatically adjusts to whatever TFR mode the B-1B is in.

     The B-1B originally used an INS system, but upgrades in the early 2000s gave an ever-improving GPS capability. The B-1B also has a velocity sensor, a gyro-stabilization system, a radar altimeter, and a system for dead reckoning (if all else fails).There is a plethora of radios ranging from satellite radios to several UHF, HF, and VHF radios; essentially, the B-1B can talk to whoever it needs to.  One of the UHF antennas also gives off the IFF signal. Upgrades in the early 2000s gave it the ability to use GPS-guided ordnance, including 750-pound, 1000-pound, and 2000-pound JDAMs.  Like the B-52 and B-2, it can carry many of such bombs, individually targeting  them, potentially surgically taking out up to 84 targets ort breaking the back of an armored advance,

     The DAS, of course, controls the defensive systems, from ECM/ECCM/IRCM, chaff and flares, and chaff rockets.  (The B-1A’s corridor chaff dispensers were deleted.) The DAS also includes Active Jamming and Deception Jamming capabilities. The DAS controls the radar in the rear tailcone as well.

     Recent upgrades have given the B-1B Link 16 capability, essentially an aerial version of a BMS that also interfaces with ground units and intelligence from a variety of sources.

     It has been rumored that some of the external skin has been replaced by carbon fiber and/or RAM, as well as treated with RAM paint.  This is the version I have statted below.

     Despite these changes, the basic airframe of the B-1B was identical  to the B-1A with a change in paint scheme). However, the structure was strengthened and the landing gear beefed up, allowing the B-1B a significantly-higher takeoff weight, and landing weight if necessary.  The bomb bays were lengthened by nearly a meter, with one being relocated in wing fuselage section and the other two being forward in the fuselage, and the two forward weapon bays could be connected to carry very large ordnance.  There are four crewmen; with the pilot and copilot having a fighter-type stick and HOTAS throttle. Unlike the B-1A, the Offensive and Defensive WSOs have a small window to their sides.  Unlike the escape capsule of the B-1A, the crew of the B-1B have ejection seats with standard aircrew bailout bags and equipment.

     The B-1B can carry external weapons pylons on the lower fuselage sides, each able to carry two weapons, Eight other single-weapon pylons  could be carried on hardpoints on the fuselage, allowing a total of 13 external weapons to be carried later.  (See the B-1R in the next section for more on these hardpoints.) In fact, this external weapons carriage severely degrades performance and increases RCS dramatically, and in practice have been rarely used.  Today, it is believed that external weapons carriage has been removed from the B-1B, including deleting from the computer and software, though interestingly the hardpoints do remain. (Under SALT/START, a B-1B may carry no more than twelve nuclear weapons externally at a time.)

     An interesting note is that the B-1B has the radar and software to employ AIM-120 AMRAAMs, though it has yet to do so operationally.

 

B-1R Lancer – the “Aerial Battleship”

     The B-1R was conceived in the early 2000s as a partner to the F-22A or as an aircraft able to quickly break up large formations of enemy aircraft. Though it is an upgrade of the B-1B, it has more in common with the B-1A, able to reach Mach 2.2 and having vastly more powerful Pratt & Whitney F119 engines (the same as those on the F-22 Raptor) -- and fuel-hungry engines; the estimated range of the B-1R is about 20% less than that of a B-1B, even with a full load of fuel.  Though the planform is basically the same as the B-1B, the inlets and engines give it away immediately – if that doesn’t, the Y-shaped tail will – a tail shape that further increases the stealth profile of the B-1R (not by a full step however – it gives the radar and his missiles an additional -2), and somewhat increases its maneuverability.  The radar has an additional mode, which is at the cost of some other modes – an AESA air-to-air fire control radar developed from that of the F-22 and F-15S (and rumors also say the Israeli version of the F-15).  This is, however, at the cost of some radar modes like Ground Mapping and High-Res Ground Mapping and High-Altitude Calibration modes. The B-1R does not carry chaff rockets. It does have, however, several new air-to-air attack modes.. Some conceptions give the R-1R the ability, one it has fired all its externally-carried missiles, to jettison its MERs and use a rotary launcher in each bomb bay, each able to carry eight missiles.  Some conceptions also have the B-1R able to carry AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles or AGM-122 Sidearm ARMs. Some conceptual designs also call for the carriage capability of the HARM ARM as well.  I have included these in the stats below.  Note that the normal missile loadout for the B-1R is the AIM-120 AMRAAM, and the most common version associated with the B-1R is and AIM-120D; however, the B-1R is able to use any version of the AIM-120 (or the Sidewinder, for that matter).The B-1R is able to lock onto 24 targets per phase, and is able to ripple-launch 12 missiles at twelve different targets the following phase (or if the offensive WSO wishes, later phases, as long as the B-1R maintains its lock-ons).Note that the B-1R’s missiles and attack radar is operated by the Offensive WSO.

     So far, the B-1R exists only in computers, computer simulations, and aircraft simulators.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: These aircraft excelled at the low-level deep penetration raids for which they were designed, and were responsible for a lot of damage to targets ranging from Europe to the Middle East to Southeast Asia, as well as flying missions over the North American continent.  However, the gradual loss of suitable airfields and support facilities, the reduction in available jet fuel, and combat losses meant that its use decreased steadily in the later stages of the Twilight War; though some 40 Lancers survived the Twilight War, it is believed that the last B-1B mission was flown in mid-1999.

Aircraft

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

B-1A

$192,386,263

JP5

34.02 tons

179.169 tons

4

51

Radar (250 km), SLAR (100 km), RLR (80 km), SAR (20 km), FLIR (100 km), Image Intensification (60 km)

Shielded

B-1B

$237,790,077

JP5

34.02 tons

216.37 tons

4

61

Radar (300 km), SLAR (150 km), RLR (100 km), SAR (50 km), FLIR (100 km), LIDAR (120 km), Image Intensification (60 km), VAS (50 km)

Shielded

B-1R

$181,074,470

JP5

34.02 tons

208.4 tons

4

59

Radar (300 km), SLAR (150 km), RLR (100 km), SAR (50 km), FLIR (100 km), LIDAR (150 km), Image Intensification (60 km), VAS (65 km)

Shielded

 

Aircraft

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

Armor

B-1A

1331

370/646 (130)

NA  87/152  6/4  60/40

112635

9252

18898

FF5  CF6  RF4  T6  W4

B-1B

956

265/550 (130)

NA  62/151  5/3  50/30

112635

7936

18288

FF7  CF8  RF7  T6  W6

B-1R

3979 (1276)

1105/2293 (130)

NA  900/1867  5/3  50/30

112635

9524

19564

FF7  CF8  RF7  T6  W6

 

Aircraft

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

B-1A

All-Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75/75), Chaff Rockets (10), Corridor Chaff Pods (4) ECM 2, IRCM 2,  Deception Jamming (60 km), Active Jamming, Stealth 1, IR Stealth 1, TFR (40 km), Track While Scan, Laser Designator (40 km), INS, IFF, RWR, Secure Radios, Look-Down Radar

3000/2300m Hardened Runway

+3

3 Bomb Bays

None

B-1B

All-Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75/75), Chaff Rockets (10), ECM 3, IRCM 3, IR Suppression, Deception Jamming (75 km), Active Jamming, Stealth 2, IR Stealth 1, TFR (40 km), Track While Scan, Laser Designator (75 km), INS, GPS,IFF, RWR, Secure Radios, Satcom Radio, Target ID, Look-Down Radar, Multitarget (6)*

1800/2200m Hardened Runway

+4

3 Bomb Bays, 14 Hardpoints**

None

B-1R

All-Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75/75), Chaff Rockets (10), ECM 3, IRCM 3, IR Suppression, Deception Jamming (75 km), Active Jamming, Stealth 2, IR Stealth 1, TFR (40 km),, INS, GPS, Advanced IFF, RWR, Secure Radios, Satcom Radio, Target ID, Look-Down Radar, Multitarget (12), Auto Track, Track While Scan, HUD Interface, IR Uncage, Supercruise

1800/2200m Hardened Runway

+5

3 Bomb Bays, 3 Hardpoints/MERs (24 Attachment Points)***

Up to 48 AMRAAMs or Sidewinders or Sidearms or HARMs (or combination)****

*Though the B-1B can carry AMRAAMs and the Multitarget ability can apply to them, the Multitarget capability normally applies to the number of guided munitions that the B-1B can launch at once.

**Though the B-1B can carry 14 low-capacity hardpoints around the aircraft, this is almost never done, as it reduces the speed by 10% and increases fuel consumption by 10%, and partially spoils the B-1Bs stealth profile (Stealth profile degrades by one step).

***While the B-1R is carrying it’s external hardpoints, it suffers the same effects as the B-1B when it is using its external hardpoints.

****The B-1R could carry conventional free-fall and guided munitions in its weapon bays or fuel tanks, but though the fuel tanks are possible (to increase range), carriage of air-to-ground munitions is unlikely (but of course, mission-dependent).

 

B-2 Spirit

     Research on this aircraft began in the mid 1970s, but its existence was not confirmed until the late 1990s (except for President’ Carter’s slip of the tongue in 1978). You see, in 1978, President Carter secretly authorized the development of a low-observable full-sized bomber, and invited Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop to compete on the project, called the ATB Program (Advanced Technology Bomber). Northrop had a leg up, having had developed in its past the low-observable XB-35 and YB-49 flying wing bombers.  These designs had a natural stealth profile to them, having buried engines, small canopies, only the barest amount of a tailcone (more to improve stability than anything else), and very small multiple vertical stabilizers, more fins than anything else, and again more for stability than anything else.  (This was waaaaay before fly-by-wire technology…) Carter thought that the ATB could replace the escalating-cost B-1A, and the B-52 which he felt was increasingly obsolete.  (Boy, was he wrong on all counts!) 

     The Northrop ATB was given the code name Senior Ice while the Lockheed proposal became Senior Peg.  (Boeing had teamed with Northrop and Vought earlier in the process.)

     Northrop’s design was a barbed-arrowhead design which was essentially a flying wing design with no fins, fairings, projections, only the barest of blisters for antennas and emitters – many of the antennas and blisters could even be retracted into the aircraft in a process that later on, B-2A crews would call “steallthing up.”  You would be hard put (if the guards would let you near a B-2A) to find a surface that does not bounce radar off at a wrong angle to reflect properly. Most of the upper and lower surfaces are smoothly blended into each other, yet designed to also reflect incoming radar and guidance signals into off angles.  Most of the B-2A is covered in a special elastic material which enforces its smoothness, and on top of this is the still-classified RAM material and RAM paint.

     In 2005, Jack Northrop, then in his 90s and long a proponent of the flying wing, was shown a model of the soon-to-go-into-production B-2A Spirit.  He broke down crying.  He died within a year.

     The chaff used by the B-2 is similar to that used by the Eurofighter; it actively broadcasts jamming signals, and functions one level better in effectiveness than normal chaff. 

     The centerbody contains the cockpit, some of the avionics in front and below the cockpit, a large avionics bay, and the weapons bay.  (There is also a small, flat space behind the cockpit about big enough the one of the crewmen to lay out flat; most crews put a full length lawn chair or a cot there so on long missions they can switch off and rest. There is also a chemical toilet which suctions waste like you might find inside a passenger airline.  There are only two crewmen; the pilot is usually designated the Aircraft Commander and flies the aircraft, performs the duties of a Defensive WSO, and in general keeps track of the stealth profile and the defensive avionics.  The second crewman is designated the Mission Commander, and takes care of offensive operations as well as avionics such as the radar and radios.  The B-2A has satellite radio and essentially enough radios to talk to anyone friendly on or above the battlefield or ships out at sea.  It should be noted that much of the avionics operate on voice command, and some operate automatically.

     The design of the B-2A was dictated by the need for stealth and the need for a high subsonic speed.  Thus, the barbed arrowpoint/boomerang shape, complete with nose point.  The wings are swept back and have a jagged rear edge that send detection beams off at angles and give the design maximum controllability.  It should be noted that without the B-2A’s avionics, it would probably crash the second it left the runway; the B-2A is almost completely unstable in flight without computer assistance. Intakes and exhausts are angular; even when control surfaces actuate, they are shaped and angled such that they are still stealthy.  The B-2A has such a large wing that flaps are not needed. Though there is a set of control surfaces above the wings for yaw control, it is believed that the engines can be used to create differential thrust for additional yaw control, as the direction of greatest instability on the B-2A is the yaw axis.

     Though the B-2A looks to casual inspection like it has only two engines, it in fact has four, GE F118-GE-11 non-afterburning turbofans.  The engine is based on the F101-X, which itself is based on the F-100 that originally powered the F-16 and F-15,  The F-100-X was eventually developed into the engines that powered the B-1A.  The engines are buried far enough inside the intakes that the compressor blades cannot be seen by any sort of radar or guidance emission. The intakes are buried and the inlets covered with special S-shaped sections inside curved wedge shapes to confuse radar and reflect it as all sorts of odd angles; In early wind tunnel tests, it was found that the shapes of the inletsw led to a loss of power due to the inlets and intakes being unable to feed the engines enough air  at low speeds.  Therefore, at low speed, the B-2A’s wings on either outer side of the intakes open auxiliary scoops to properly feed the engines. The engines were designed to run relatively cool, and the exhausts were likewise buried in the aircraft and let out to special (and still classified, but are supposedly based on a large improvement on the Space Shuttle’s heat shield tiles). The engines are in barely-rising nacelles blended into the wing on either side of the crew compartment and weapons bay, which was itself low and blended smoothly into the rest of the structure. At the end of the aircraft, known as the beavertail, there are further moveable surfaces which help dampen the heat from the exhausts. 

     The wings are basically full of fuel, the central body, as stated, has the cockpit, avionics, and two bomb bays.  These weapon bays generally carry rotary launchers carrying heavy JDAMs, ALCMs, JASSMs, LRASMs, and other such ordnance. The rotary launchers normally carry eight weapons per bay, but one or both bays may be reconfigured to carry a marked increase in smaller JDAMs or gravity bombs.

     As stated, the B-2A has two crewmen.  They are seated on ejection seats.  There is a jumpseat behind and between the crewmembers for visitors , trainers, or evaluators, but in most cases, this is kept in the stowed position, and it is almost never used on a combat mission.  The B-2A is capable of midair refueling, through a receptacle behind the cockpit on the upper fuselage; the receptacle rotates smoothly when not in use, leaving a smooth surface that blends into the rest of the aircraft. 

     Though it may seem that putting radar on a stealth aircraft would negate its stealth, the B-2A has an AESA radar which already has a low probably of being seen, and also has additional LPI (Low Probably of Intercept) features.  Much of the radar system is classified, but it can function as a weather radar, and also has the tasks of detection, classification, identification, and location of any hostile threats (or non-hostile targets). The radar, like the F-22 and F-35, receives inputs from several locations on the aircraft, and essentially has 360-degree coverage around and even through the aircraft.

     The Block 20 version of the B-2A appeared ion 1996.  The primary difference is a strengthening of the airframe, landing gear, and weapon racks and rotating racks that allow it to operate at a higher weight.  The INS navigation was also replaced with a GPS receiver (though the vanilla B-2A has partial GPS capability in order to drop JDAMs and some other GPS-guided ordnance). The Block 20 B-2A is also equipped with Link-16, which is essentially a BMS for aircraft which interfaces with ground BMSs like Blue Force Tracker. 

     The Block 30 is, so far, the definitive version of the B-2A.  Essentially, all the RAM coating and paint was removed and replaced with even more efficacious materials.  The TFR system allows the B-2A to follow terrain at an altitude as low as 60 meters – essentially giving it the ability of the B-1B, F-111F, or FB-111A. The Block 30 B-2A is integrated with the AFMSS (Air Force Mission Support System, which makes the aircraft extremely flexible in approaching, egressing, choosing, and changing targets based on the needs of higher headquarters, target prosecution, or evasion needs.  It also allows the Block 30 B-2A to interacts with the sensors of UAVs within range, and receive pictorial data from satellites.

     By the end of 2000, all B-2As had been upgraded to the Block 30 standard. In 2012, development began on what will become Block 40, with improvements primarily centering in the radar and radio systems, as well as some other avionics and equipment.  The exact update list is still unspecified.

     There are currently 21 B-2As; there were originally to be 50 B-2A’s built, each one named Spirit of [name of one of the US States]  However, the entire DoD chain of command, as well as the President, Vice President, the Congress, the Senate, several white House, Congressional, and Senatorial staffers…collectively gagged on the price on one B-2A, let alone 50; the RL price of a B-2A is rumored to be about $2 Billion.  Each. The Acquisition program was cut before the halfway point, with 21 being built.  In early 2008, the B-2A Spirit of Kansas crashed on takeoff from Guam; ofservers reported the aircraft had seemingly spontaneously caught fire, damaging the avionics and causing the Spirit of Kansas to roll sharply to starboard.  The crewmembers ejected safely and are reportedly still flying B-2As.  The cause of the crash was corruption of the air data system; somehow, moisture got introduced into the avionics while some parts of the avionics were being calibrated.  The Spirit of Kansas, unfortunately, was essentially a total loss and no replacement B-2A was authorized.

     Unfortunately, due to its design, the B-2 is not an agile aircraft, nor is it a fast aircraft, though it is fuel efficient.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: This aircraft’s existence was still only a rumor until just after the start of the Twilight War, when an NBC news camera crew shot some footage at Diego Garcia and caught the first public sight of the strange-looking aircraft, which the President later confirmed was the rumored “Stealth Bomber.”  These aircraft were used to penetrate heavy defenses all over the globe.  Some 32 B-2As were built before the beginning of hostilities; most of these were upgraded to Block 20, but 12 were built to Block 30 standards.

Aircraft

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

B-2A Block 10

$833,549,931

JP5

22.68 tons

170.1 tons

2

49

AESA LPI Radar (300 km), AESA LPI SLAR (150 km), AESA LPI RLR (100 km), FLIR (100 km), LIDAR (120 km), Image Intensification (60 km), SAR (50 km)

Shielded

B-2A Block 20

$834.224,913

JP5

23.46 tons

177.11 tons

2

50

AESA LPI Radar (300 km), AESA LPI SLAR (150 km), AESA LPI RLR (100 km), FLIR (100 km), LIDAR (120 km), Image Intensification (60 km), SAR (50 km)

Shielded

B-2A Block 30

$902,609,453

JP5

23.46 tons

177.11 tons

2

54

AESA LPI Radar (300 km), AESA LPI SLAR (150 km), AESA LPI RLR (100 km), FLIR (100 km), LIDAR (120 km), Image Intensification (60 km), SAR (50 km)

Shielded

 

Aircraft

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

Armor*

B-2A Block 10

1582

434 (140)

NA  109  6/4  60/40

81646

7755

18288

FF6  RF6  RF6  T0  W6

B-2A Block 20

1521

417 (140)

NA  105  6/4  60/40

81646

8078

18288

FF6  RF6  RF6  T0  W6

B-2A Block 30

1521

417 (140)

NA  105  6/4  60/40

81646

8078

18288

FF6  RF6  RF6  T0  W6

 

Aircraft

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

B-2A Block 10

All-Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (60/80), Chaff rockets (4), ECM 2, IRCM 4, Stealth 3, IR Stealth 3, IR Suppression, Deception Jamming (75 km), Active Jamming, TFR (50 km), Track While Scan, Laser Designator (75 km), INS, GPS, RWR, Secure Radios, Satcom Radio, Target ID, Look-Down Radar, EW Suite, HUD Interface, Advanced IFF

1600/2000m Hardened Runway

+5

2 Bomb Bays

None

B-2A Block 20

All-Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (60/80), Chaff rockets (4), ECM 2, IRCM 4, Stealth 3, IR Stealth 3, IR Suppression, Deception Jamming (75 km), Active Jamming, TFR (50 km), Track While Scan, Laser Designator (75 km), INS, GPS, RWR, Secure Radios, Satcom Radio, Target ID, Look-Down Radar, EW Suite, HUD Interface, Advanced IFF, Link 16, Multitarget (4)

1600/2000m Hardened Runway

+5

2 Bomb Bays

None

B-2A Block 30

All-Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (60/80), Chaff rockets (4), ECM 2, IRCM 4, Stealth 4, IR Stealth 3, IR Suppression, Deception Jamming (75 km), Active Jamming, TFR (50 km), Track While Scan, Laser Designator (75 km), INS, GPS, RWR, Secure Radios, Satcom Radio, Target ID, Look-Down Radar, EW Suite, HUD Interface, Advanced IFF, Link 16, Multitarget (6), UAV Interaction

1600/2000m Hardened Runway

+5

2 Bomb Bays

None

*The B-2 has no tail or vertical stabilizer surfaces.  Any tail hits are considered misses.

 

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

     Notes: Known affectionately to its crews as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow, or Big Ugly Fat Fucker), the B-52’s design goes back to the late 1940s, when plans for a heavy, turboprop-powered intercontinental bomber were drawn up.  The engines were quickly replaced with what were then 8 of the most powerful jet engines available, the wings got swept and the fuselage sleeker, and in the intervening years, the design has been steadily upgraded with a stronger frame and skin, ever-more powerful electronics and bomb-delivery equipment, rebuilds to allow the carriage of heavier and more versatile weapons, and an upgraded rear gun position.  Over the years, it was supposed to be replaced by a variety of newer bombers, including the B-58 Hustler, the XB-70 Valkyrie, and the B-1 Lancer, but it has outlasted any aircraft ever built. One misconception is that the B-52 is merely an enlarged B-47; this is far from the truth as the design work for the B-52 began before the design work for the B-47.  That the B-52 bears any resemblance to the B-47 is coincidental.  Some of the different iterations of the B-52 are so different that they could almost be regarded as separate aircraft, especially the different versions of the B-52H.  Currently, the Air Force plans to keep the B-52 in service until at least 2020 and possibly as long as 2040; some of the present crop of B-52 crews are the children and even grandchildren of the original B-52 aircrew.

 

BUFF Prototypes – the XB-52 and YB-52

     After years of failed design work on a piston, turbofan, and underpowered turbojet, the first true B-52, the XB-52, went into testing.  One was built; its job was to wring out any problems with the upcoming B-52.  The design had been lengthened from the original drawing board design by 4.26 meters, and huge above-wing spoilers were added to add to maneuverability and slow landing speeds.  Pairs of huge flaps replaced the earlier conceptual flaperons.  The wings were hugely thick at the roots, tapering to less than 0.6 meters at the tips.  Some experience was gained from the B-47 program; the wings are swept at 35 degrees, the engines were podded, and the double bicycle landing gear with wingtip stick gear were used.  The XB-52 used a bubble canopy, similar to that of the B-47 (though larger).  The landing gear could be pivoted 20 degrees in either direction, making crosswind landings possible despite the size of the XB-52.  Further braking was accomplished by a 13.4-meter wide parachute carried in the rear of the aircraft under the horizontal stabilizer.

     The XB-52 was powered by eight Pratt & Whitney YJ57-P-3 turbojets, delivering 8700 pounds of thrust each, for a total of 26,100 pounds of thrust.  Defensive armament consisted of four M-2HB machineguns mounted in a manned tail, with the tail gunner sitting above the gun turret.  The turret could fire upwards 20 degrees, almost straight downwards, and about 45 degrees to either side.  If the crew had to escape the aircraft, the tail gunner’s compartment would be jettisoned by explosive bolts so the tail gunner could jump out.  The bomb bay was located in the center of the aircraft between the wheel bogeys; provisions were made for both conventional and nuclear bombs.  The standard crew was five: the pilot and copilot sat under the bubble canopy, the bombardier and defensive weapons (ECM) operator sat further back and downwards from the canopy, and the tail gunner was in the rear.  The front had one more seat – the tail gunner took off in this seat, and before the XB-52 reached altitude, he would climb back to the tail gunner’s position and lock himself in while the rest of the aircraft other than the cockpit were depressurized.

     The XB-52 flew once, then was returned to Edwards for extensive ground experimentation and modifications.  It would not fly again until after the YB-52s flew, using lessons learned from the XB-52.

     The second prototype, the YB-52, was a service test model.  It incorporated changes in response to the XB-52 flight and ground experimentation.  Perhaps the biggest change in the YB-52 was the use of a shorter vertical stabilizer, a feature which would not appear again until the B-52G.

 

Early BUFFs – B-52A-C

     The first production model was the B-52A, which first flew in 1954.  Three B-52As were built, and used for advanced service testing, though they were also fully capable of carrying out missions. They however never saw squadron service. The nose of the B-52A was completely changed – instead of the bubble canopy, the B-52A had the side-by-side seating and nose we all know and love now.  The crew accommodation of the B-52A was changed to six – pilot, copilot, tail gunner, radar navigator/bombardier, defensive systems operator, and navigator.  The pilot and copilot sat in the top deck of the B-52A, while everyone else except the tail gunner sat in a lower deck behind the cockpit which later got tagged with names such as “the pit,” the hole,” and “the black hole;” the deck was dark and cramped. A seventh seat was a folding seat behind and between the pilot and copilot for an instructor pilot. The pilot and copilot had ejection seats; the four members of the crew on the lower deck simply fell out of the floor of the B-52.  If an IP was present, he had to leave his seat, put on a parachute, then jump out of one of the spaces on the lower deck left by the escaping lower deck crew.

     At first, the bombing system was not finished; a temporary system was installed until the actual MA-6A bombing/navigation system was ready. The B-52A was not only capable of aerial refueling, it carried, under the outer wings a pair of 3785-liter drop tanks.

     The first 10 B-52Bs were to have been B-52As, but technical improvements based on the B-52As test program were incorporated into the new aircraft.  The B-52B was the first version to see squadron service, and first flight was in 1955.  50 B-52Bs were originally to have been delivered as bombers; however, only 23 B-52B bombers were actually delivered.  The remaining 27 were outfitted as RB-52B long-range reconnaissance aircraft. The B-52B used an A-3A fire control system for the tail gunner, but some later were retrofitted with the more advanced MD-5 system, which incorporated short-range tail radar.  The RB-52 could still perform a bombing mission; a small portion of the bomb bay could still carry bombs, and the special wing MERs could carry weapons. All B-52Bs used the MA-6A bombing/navigation system. The B-52Bs were powered by J57-P-1W turbojets, each with a rating of 11,400 pounds of thrust.

     A notable achievement (for the time) was a flight by three B-52Bs on a nonstop trip around the world, aided by aerial refueling.  This flight took 45 hours 19 minutes for the 39,148-kilometer trip.

     The RB-52B had an interesting internal setup: in the bomb bay was a two-man pressurized capsule who, depending on the mission, carried out photographic reconnaissance, radar reconnaissance, ELINT, or one of those activities and the use and launching of ECM or drones such as the Quail, which was designed to look on radar like a B-52.

     Two RB-52Bs were later modified into X-15 launch aircraft.  The other B-52Bs and RB-52Bs were modified to the B-52C standard in 1957-58.

     The B-52C first flew in 1956; it was essentially an improved B-52B which had the capability to carry the RB-52Bs bomb bay pod (though the “R” designation was not used, as the mounting was not permanent).  35 total were produced. Internal fuel capacity was increased, and the size of the drop tanks was increased to 11,356 liters (though the smaller tanks of the B-52A and B could still be mounted).  The B-52C was the first B-52 to carry the “SAC” paint scheme – largely natural metal with the underside of the aircraft painted in a reflective antiradiation white paint.  This paint was classified – and it led to questions about why the underside of the B-52C was white.  For the most part, these questions were never answered until the paint scheme was declassified, and ironically, the questions stopped and the paint scheme was rarely questioned. Power was again increased by use of the J57-P-19W, which had a rating of 11,750 pounds thrust.

     An interesting feature present on all B-52s is a small water heater, generally for heating coffee and tea.  Like all B-52s, the B-52A had antiflash curtains to pull across the windshield to protect the pilot’s and copilot’s eyes from nuclear flashblindness.  The aircraft had to be flown on IFR when the curtains are deployed.

 

Large-Scale Production Begins: The B-52D, B-52E, and B-52F

     The service entry in 1956 of the B-52D marks the B-52 as part of the triad of nuclear delivery systems that was the foundation of defense and offensive combat power for the US Air Force.  The B-52D, B-52E, and B-52F were also capable of carrying out conventional bombing missions. Some 170 B-52Ds were built.  The B-52D was essentially the B-52C without the capability to carry the special pod in its bomb bay.  The B-52D got another power upgrade by the use of J57-P-29W turbojets, each developing 12,100 pounds of thrust. Production was extended to Boeing’s plant in Wichita, Kansas, as in the Seattle plant, much of production was dedicated to the KC-135.  The fire control system for the tail gunner was the A-3A or the MD-9, a later version of the MD-5.  The bombing/navigation system remained the MA-6A.  The Doppler radar system was updated from the AN/APN-108 to the AN/APN-89A, and a form of Terrain-Following Radar (TFR) was added.

     The B-52E appeared in 1957, with 100 built.  The E Model was very similar to the B-52D, with a more advanced bombing/navigation system, electrical system, and more advanced ECM and ECCM.  The B-52E was capable of carrying the AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missile, a small unmanned aircraft with inertial guidance and a thermonuclear warhead.  Two could be carried, one each on hard points on the inner wing. Some B-52Es were used to test low-altitude penetration of enemy defenses, an activity at which they were largely successful.

     The B-52F was the last B-52 to be manufactured in Seattle (though some modification work was carried out in Seattle).  Squadron service began in 1958, and 44 were built.  The biggest change was that the B-52F had self-starting engines; no external power cart was required.  The self-starting module was carried on the port side of each port engine nacelle. Power was further increased by use of the J57-P-43W engine, with a thrust of 13,750 pounds thrust each.  The B-52F suffered from a problem with leaky fuel lines, presenting a possible fire hazard; though this was not the first instance of this problem, it was the biggest.  When operations over Vietnam started, the B-52Fs had their ECM and ECCM upgraded.  A Loran homing navigation device was also added. The upgraded electronics limited the bomb load. The guns equipping earlier models of the B-52 were traded for M-3s, doubling their rate of fire.

     One modification applied only to B-52Ds was the “Big Belly” refit, which increased the capacity of the bomb bay dramatically.  This was a direct result of requirements for missions over the Hanoi-Haiphong area and Route Pack Six. Along with the Big Belly refit was the retrofitting of more advanced ECM/ECCM capability and an increase in chaff and flare carriage.  It should be noted that the Big Belly refit did not actually change load-carrying capacity, it simply rearranged storage in the B-52, allowing it to carry more iron bombs for saturation bombing missions.  It allowed up to 107 500-pound bombs, plus another 24 on the wing MERs.  Other modifications made to Vietnam-bound B-52Ds included the Rivet Rambler ECM fit, which included an improved RWR, a radar receiver which could be left on to warn the crew, SLAR. Three more radar jamming modules (to cover the large amount of equipment the Russians were giving the North Vietnamese), and high-capacity flare and chaff dispensers were installed.

     The B-52D was the model most used in the Vietnam War; rumors are that the actor James Stuart, an Air Force Reserve officer and qualified heavy bomber pilot, flew one mission against a VC stronghold in Cambodia.  B-52 strikes in Vietnam were popularly known, especially to the ground troops, as Arc Light missions.  Missions in Route Pack Six were called Linebacker missions. A result of B-52D (and E and F) operations is that they had to undertake an in-theater IRAN (Inspect and Repair as Necessary) upgrade.

 

First of the Last: The B-52G

     The B-52G had perhaps the most marked change in appearance of all the B-52 series – the shorter vertical stabilizer like that used on the YB-52.  Boeing’s data indicated that the large vertical stabilizer of earlier models was not only unnecessary from a design and aerodynamic standpoint, but shortening the tail saved thousands of kilograms of weight and also reduced the RCS by a bit.  Internally, there were also large changes – most notably the elimination of the rubber bladder-type tanks, with hollow tanks taking their place, allowing for a big increase in fuel capacity.  The wing tanks in particular were joined, forming what Boeing and the Air Force called a “wet wing.”  However, the size of the external drop tanks was greatly reduced in response to the increase in fuel capacity; they now were physically smaller and held only 2650 liters each.  Unlike earlier such tanks, these were attached permanently and are a part of the B-52G’s (and H’s) fuel load. The loss of weight in the tail led to an increase in possible takeoff weight.  On the inner wings, the B-52G could carry huge multiple ejector racks, able to carry twenty-four 500-pound or 750-pounds bombs or eighteen 1000-pound bombs. Another type of rack could be installed on those wing hardpoints, allowing the B-52G to carry a pair of Hound Dogs. The B-52G was also to have carried the GAM-87A Skybolt medium-range attack missile, but the Skybolt program was cancelled during the B-52G’s development.  Instead of the Skybolt, four ADM-20 Quail decoys were carried in the bomb bay in addition to the B-52G’s weapons load.  These decoys used a preprogrammed flight path and had an RCS similar to the B-52.

     Another large change to the B-52G was the elimination of the tail gunner’s position.  The former tail gunner was brought up to the lower deck of the B-52G, and he became the defensive weapons operator (generally an NCO Staff Sergeant, Technical Sergeant, or Master Sergeant).  He was still responsible for the defense of the aircraft, and could launch chaff, flares, and chaff rockets, or the Quail (when so equipped).  His primary job, however, was the firing of the tail guns by remote control; he had a wide-angle CCTV viewer with a reticle that varied by range, and the tail radar was more powerful and could also help direct the guns.  The gunner could also leave aiming the guns to the AGS-15 fire control system, meaning that he only had to drop the trigger on enemy aircraft. He faced the rear, and had an upward-firing ejection seat.

     The B-52G introduced TERCOM to the B-52, to go with the new low-level penetration role of the B-52.  This allowed the B-52G to be safely flown as low at 200 feet, in a soft or hard ride flight configuration.

     Like the B-52H, the B-52G was used over North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, with mixed results.  Though the Vietnamese were justifiably afraid of the havoc they could bring down, they were suited more for urban and industrial targets than bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail and other such tactical targets.  In addition, the air defenses of the Hanoi-Haiphong area were much thicker than the designers of the B-52 ever thought about, and the B-52G and B-52H took heavy losses, especially during the Linebacker II bombing campaign.

     B-52Gs (and Hs) dispensed with the wing ailerons, using spoilers and the tail to do the job formerly dome with ailerons. 

     The tail of the B-52G was increased by about a meter, and used for some of the new electronic systems and flare and chaff dispensers.

     The B-52G is the B-52 variant featured in HBO’s By Dawn’s Early Light. Last combat use for the B-52G was during Desert Storm, though eight B-52Gs remained in service until 1995.

 

The “Last” Version: The B-52H

     The B-52H was intended to be the last version of the B-52 to fly before it was to be replaced by more advanced bombers such as the XB-70 and later the B-1.  It was also intended to be primarily a nuclear weapons carrier, and that it’s primary armament would be the Skybolt missile with thermonuclear warheads.  This would keep the B-52H, for the most part, from having to penetrate enemy air defenses while still being able to attack the target.  The B-52H would still carry four Quails in its bomb bay.  However, with the demise of the Skybolt program, the B-52H carried paired Hound Dog missiles, and free-fall nuclear weapons in its bomb bay. 102 were built; only 80 remain in service, with some being destroyed at AMARC as a part of the START treaty while others are preserved at AMARC as a source of spare parts. Some of these 80 B-52s are still in use over Afghanistan.

     The B-52H had the same shortened tail as the B-52G; however, the tail armament was changed to the more effective M-61 Vulcan Gatling Gun.  The engines were changed to more fuel efficient and higher-rated Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3 turbofans, rated at 17,000 pounds of thrust each.  This engine was a highly-modified J57, turning it into a turbofan.  A power cart was again necessary, as the engines required a pneumatic blast to start. These engines have larger air intakes than the J57-powered aircraft and incorporate bypass air outlets that make the engine nacelle look very different from earlier models.

     The B-52G introduced the rotary launchers that later could equip all B-52Gs and Hs.  These were modular in nature, and could be removed to increase conventional bomb carrying capability.  Two of these rotary launchers could fit into a B-52s bomb bay.

     The B-52H had increased ECM and ECCM capability, as well as increased-capacity flare and chaff dispensers and the ability to carry 10 chaff rockets in its bomb bay. These systems were collectively referred to as the Phase VI Countermeasures Suite. A takaway from the earlier CCV program (see below) was a modification of the control surfaces and a small flight computer which gave the B-52H greater agility than its earlier cousins.

 

B-52H: Later Iterations

     The B-52H has been the recipient of repeated and heavy modifications; some modifications programs should rightfully earned the B-52H a higher letter designation, despite the fact that this was never done.

     The first such heavy modification was done to 281 B-52Gs and Hs. These modified B-52s began service in 1972. This involved the installation of a rotary-type launcher in for forward bomb bay, designed to carry eight of the then-new SRAM short-Range Attack Missiles, which could carry a nuclear or conventional warhead.  Six further SRAMs could be carried on the wing hardpoints on an MER designed for this purpose.  The B-52Gs and Hs could still carry four Quails in its bomb bay, but in late 1972, the Quails on the B-52H were replaced by the AGM-69A SCAD (Subsonic Cruise Armed Decoy Missile).  Six of these were carried on a rotary launcher in the rear bomb bay; the SCAD was not only a decoy, but could be programmed to, at any point in its flight, to attack a target using a conventional warhead, using either flight programming or using an integral antiradar capability.

     Next, the B-52H sprouted an ever-increasing amount of antennas, both faired and short, but free-standing.  All over the aircraft are antennas for use with the B-52Hs extensive communications suite, including a two secure VLF radios, a pair of extreme-long range secure radios, and a medium-range secure link primarily to communicate with other B-52s and escorts in the same strike package, as well as tanker aircraft.  Fairings on either side of the nose held advanced (for the time) ECM, ECCM, and Deception Jamming transmitters.  Above the radome is a further fairing; this carries a AN/ALT-28 “noise generator,” used for hard jamming of enemy air defenses by filling their scopes with static and false targets. A further fairing on the each side, with a small air intake in front of it, allows the B-52Hs air conditioning and heating to function even without the engines being on. (This is something anyone who has sat on a large aircraft on the ground can appreciate.)  The mechanism also provided cooling for the ECM equipment. The lower fairings on both sides could be steered within its housing to get a better jamming effect.  The AN/ASQ-38 bombing/navigation system was replaced with the up-to-date (at the time) AN/ASQ-176 Offensive Avionics System (OAS).  The OAS gave the B-52H true radar bombing capability and greatly increased radar and bombing accuracy. Also added with the OAS was a FLIR.  This is referred below as the B-52H-1.

     The OAS (Block II) was necessary for the next upgrade: the carriage of the AGM-86B ALCM, also carried on the B-52Hs rotary launchers, and carryable on the wing hardpoints.  Twelve ALCMs could be carried in the bomb bay, and another six on each wing MER. The electronics necessary for operation and aiming of the ALCM were also added, as well as allowing the bombardier to program a flight path, including various turns and other maneuvers.  (Some B-52Gs also received this modification.)  B-52s carrying cruise missiles are fitted with wing root extensions at the front of the wing to allow the Russians to tell whether we have too many B-52s with potential nuclear weapons to comply with treaty obligations (as we did, at the beginning of the modification program). All B-52H bomb bays now had a pair of rotary launchers, which could deliver nuclear weapons, conventional munitions, and most of the tactical missiles in the USAF inventory. This is referred to below as the B-52H-2.

     The next modification was relatively small: the addition of the AN/AVQ-22 Electro-Optical Viewing System.  This was a long-range sight that could be swiveled 45 degrees to either side, 15 degrees upward, and 45 degrees downward.  It also provided long-range LLTV. This sight not only allows the B-52H to identify enemy aircraft at beyond visual range, is allows the crew their first look at a target, again from long range. In 1982, the wing hardpoints of the B-52H (and G) were modified to carry six Harpoon missiles, giving the B-52 an antishipping capability.  The crewmembers on the lower deck were given CCTV monitors to allow them a view outside (these were later replaced flat panels).  The OAS Block II was improved and modified into the Flight Management System, which combined the navigation functions with the Stores Management Overlay (SMO); the SMO facilitated the use of several different types of weapons by merely loading the software for use of a particular weapon into memory.  The SMO function of the FMS would see continual upgrades over the years as new weapons were added to the B-52H’s repertoire – and continues to be upgraded.  This is referred to below as the B-52-3.

     In the mid-1980s, ECM capability and strength was further increased by new equipment in the belly of the B-52H forward of the bomb bay; this resulted in a “farm” of eight blade-type antennas underneath the B-52H.  An IRCM device was also installed, providing more protection against heat-seeking missiles and providing false targets for aircraft with IR seekers.  A datalink device was used, with the antenna atop the rear fuselage; this gave the B-52H a direct link not only with each other, but with AWACS aircraft and ground radars.  The addition of another extreme long-range secure radio allowed contact with ground units. GPS was added to the FMS in the late 1980s.  The OAS Block II was modified into the Block III, which included the AN/APQ-166 Strategic Radar, which had increased range, had a planar-array radar. The longer-ranged AN/AAQ-23 FLIR replaced the AN/AAQ-6. The AN/AVQ-22 EOVS was replaced by the longer-ranged, more flexible, and more reliable AN/AVQ-37.  Another, more general upgrade was done to switch to systems that had more availability of spare parts.  These collective modifications are referred to the B-53H-4.

     In October of 1991, the tail gun of the B-52H was deemed unnecessary and was removed.  This meant that the gunner and his station were removed and the remaining functions of the Offensive Systems Operator were folded into a redesigned Offensive/Defensive Systems Operator station; the use of more advanced computers also allowed this integration to take place without unduly increasing the O/DSO’s workload.  Though at first the guns remained on the aircraft and were operated by the O/DSO, they were finally totally removed by 1994.  Interestingly, the tail gunner’s seat, reticle gunsight, and AN/ASG-21 defensive fire control system remained in the tail, though the area was covered over by a bolt-on fairing.  In addition, the tail radar was increased in ability into a full search and tracking radar.

     The mid-1990s also saw communications upgrades for the B-52H.  The AN/ARC-210(V) VHF/UHF replaced the old VHF/UHF radio, and provided the B-52H with secure, long-range communications.  It could be used in LOS or SATCOM modes, and unified the shorter-range communications with other aircraft as well as air-to-ground communications.  The radio set also had a commercial Have Quick I set for communications with civilian aircraft, and a Have Quick II module which gave the set a strong antijamming capability as well as an interface with the SINCGARS radios used by ground units and military helicopters.  It was capable of multiple simultaneous communications, and could be used in manual mode to talk to ships and submarines.

     Another addition was a receive-only radio called the AN/ARR-85(V), letting the aircraft listen to VLF and LF transmissions.  This was meant primarily for the B-52H to be able to receive attack orders even in heavily ionized atmospheric conditions like those during a general nuclear exchange.  The AN/ARR-85(V) was operated by the navigator, who would then print out the orders and give them to the bombardier.  Computers and software developed from commercial counterparts, called Falcon View and Combat Track II, were added; this included three laptop computers which controlled the entire communications and ECM setup.  The computer system made the entire communications, ECM/ECCM, and attack profile much more agile.  The Combat Track II also included a fold-up LCD which functioned as sort of an additional HUD.  The collective developments in the past three paragraphs are called below the B-52H-5.

     In 2000, the B-52H began to receive the Avionics Mid-life Improvement (AMI), which essentially brought the bombing and navigation systems into the 21st century.  AMI replaced the avionics computer and data transfer unit, which under OAS had severe limitations, with full digital capability and supporting advanced data entry such as a trackball for targeting, a digital mapping unit, and modernized the base computer language.  A problem with the B-52H’s navigation capability over the poles was fixed. The AMI was a bit slow in implementation and the AMI was not fully operational until 2006.

     After AMI, the Combat Network Communication Technology (CONECT) replaced all the old, monochrome TV monitors with full-color LCD monitors.  A client/server architecture replaced previous communications technology with other aircraft, ground units, and AWACS aircraft.  The Link-16 Tactical Datalink (TDL) with Windows Mail allowed higher commands to give the crew of the BUFF the ability to change targets or weapons use as needed. It also gave the B-52H a wideband wireless internet and data connection ability.  This upgrade occurred in 2007. A removable Litening II targeting pod allowed the B-52H to use virtually all smart weapons in the USAF inventory.  This upgrade included the modification of the bombardier’s panel into the Advanced Guided Weapon Control Panel (AGWCP).  The Litening Pod was itself upgraded several times to improve resolution, range, coordinates for GPS-guided weapons, and the ability to automatically transfer the BUFF’s weapons complement and targeting information to ground units.  The AGWCP software also transmitted coordinates to ground units in both latitude and longitude and in the grid coordinates used by ground units. Part of the AGWCP included a joystick which resembled that of a gamer’s flight-type joystick. The AN/AAQ-28A(V)3 Litening AT/ISR allowed the B-52H to transmit pictures from the weapons’ receivers to a properly-equipped ground unit or AWACS aircraft (or back to the AWACS).  The two paragraphs above are referred to below as B-52H-6.

     In general, virtually all BUFFs received structural strengthening and improvements throughout their lifetimes.  This is particularly true of the B-52G and H; while the aircraft were older in most cases than their aircrews, many structural components and skin had been replaced several times.  Modifications were legion, including the replacement of whole systems, electronic and electrical. Most B-52Hs are well beyond the original 5000 hours projected for their airframes at the time of their construction.

     As for the designations I am using – B-52H-1 through -6 – these are not official designations, merely designations to easily delineate them.

 

Special BUFFs

     One B-52A went on to serve into the late 2000s; it was modified into the NB-52A configuration and used to launch research aircraft such as the X-15, lifting body aircraft, and the X-37, as well as various scale models of actual aircraft in a pre-prototype testing phase. The NB-52A was getting really long in the tooth by 2001.  It’s supposed replacement was a B-52H, which was heavily-modified for it’s role (but not given an NB designation).  However, NASA contracted such use to Scaled Composites and its White Knight research aircraft, and the modified B-52H was retired in 2006, having never flown a research mission.

     The NB-52E was a part of a larger research program into Controlled Configuration Vehicles (CCVs).  CCVs sport extra aerodynamic surfaces in addition to modifications designed to deliberately cause the aircraft to be unstable and capable of maneuvers that a stock aircraft cannot do. (The B-52E is largely unable to perform most air combat maneuvers.) Special computers allow the unstable to be flown by continually adjusting aerodynamic surfaces, sometimes as much as 20 such corrections per second.  The NB-52E was largely differentiated by it’s bright-colored test paint scheme canards just behind and below the cockpit, and vertical fin under the nose.  Special modifications were designed to reduce the structural bending and control surface flutter which could happen to a B-52 in severe air turbulence.  The flight computer array was linked to sensors literally everywhere in the aircraft. Gyroscopes and accelerometers detected abrupt or unexpected movements of the aircraft and caused the flight computers to jigger the control surfaces, or the canards and nose fin.  The system, computers, and canards and fin were collectively called the Ride Control System.  In some places, the skin was replaced with anti-radar paint or actual anti-radar materials. Testing started in 1973, but the configuration was never included in actual production B-52s. Though the NB-52E had a bomb bay largely containing instrumentation, I have included a “combat example” below for interest and comparison.  I have given this the designation of “YB-52H”, but let me stress that this is not a real designation.

     Another NB-52E was used to test the B-52 while powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofans, also employed on the Boeing 747.  This was done primarily in an effort to come up with a configuration that required less maintenance and less fuel, and produced 43,500 pounds of thrust apiece.  Ultimately, the costs of re-equipping the entire B-52 fleet got in the way, along with the costs and time to train ground crews on the new engines, train the pilots to proficiency with the new engines, etc, etc, etc.  I have decided to add a “combat version” below. Another NB-52E was used to test a fly-by-wire system, which later reappeared on the B-52H.  As above, I have given this the non-real designation of “YB-52J.”  This re-engined B-52 is, however, showing every sign of becoming the real B-52J.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: By the Twilight War, the only official service variant was the B-52H, with a fully modern electronic warfare suite and modernized attack center able to conduct both low-level penetration missions and high-altitude bombing with anything from conventional iron bombs to air-launched cruise missiles.  In the Twilight War, they are perhaps best known for the bombing of the Krefeld Salient, where, despite staggering losses, they were able to break the back of the Russian invasion of Germany; and the carpet bombing of Baghdad and the surrounding area, practically reducing the Iraqi capital to total ruins along with most of the Republican Guard in a single 22-hour campaign of non-stop bombing.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

B-52A

$177,497,303

JP5

19.2 tons

187.5 tons

6+1

166

Weather Radar (200 km), Radar (200 km), Bombing Radar (40 km)

Shielded

B-52B

$186,844.635

JP5

20.57 tons

200.89 tons

6+1

176

Weather Radar (200 km), Radar (200 km), Tail Radar (50 km), Bombing Radar (40 km)

Shielded

RB-52B

$1,265,960,000

JP5

2.57 tons

200.44 tons

8+1

186

Weather Radar (200 km), Radar (300 km), Tail Radar (50 km), Bombing/Mapping Radar (50 km)

Shielded

B-52C

$187,226,535

JP5

20.57 tons

200.89 tons

6+1

176

Weather Radar (200 km), Radar (200 km(, Tail Radar (60 km), Bombing Radar (50 km)

Shielded

B-52D

$166,228,788

JP5

20.57 tons

200.89 tons

6+1

180

Weather Radar (220 km), Radar (220 km), Tail Radar (65 km), Bombing Radar (55 km)

Shielded

B-52D (Big Belly)

$182,851,667

JP5

26.79 tons

207.11 tons

6+1

186

Weather Radar (220 km), Radar (220 km), Tail Radar (65 km(, Bombing Radar (55 km)

Shielded

B-52E

$232,960,809

JP5

19.2 tons

200.89 tons

6+1

181

Weather Radar (240 km), Radar (240 km), Tail Radar (75 km), Bombing Radar (60 km), Doppler Radar (40 km)

Shielded

B-52F

$286,089,129

JP5

22.32 tons

217.68 tons

6+1

124

Weather Radar (275 km), Radar (275 km), Tail Radar (86 km), Bombing Radar (66 km), Doppler Radar (45 km), Loran (299 km)

Shielded

B-52G

$211,325.360

JP5

22.32 tons

217.68 tons

6+1

124

Weather Radar (303 km), Radar (303 km), Tail Radar (95 km), Bombing Radar (75 km), Doppler Radar (58 km), Loran (299 km)

Shielded

B-52H

$247,281,408

JP5

22.32 tons

217.68 tons

6+1

125

Weather Radar (336 km), Radar (336 km), Tail Radar (105 km), Bombing Radar (83 km), Doppler Radar (64 km), Loran (299 km), Advanced FLIR (80 km)

Shielded

B-52H-1

$231,749,000

 

JP6

22.32 tons

217.68 tons

6+1

130

Weather Radar (336 km), Radar (336 km), Tail Radar (105 km), Bombing Radar (83 km), Doppler Radar (64 km), Loran (299 km), Advanced FLIR (80 km)

Shielded

B-52H-2

$292,749,000

JP6

22.32 tons

217.68 tons

6+1

132

Weather Radar (336 km), Radar (336 km), Tail Radar (105 km), Bombing Radar (83 km), Doppler Radar (64 km), Loran (299 km), Advanced FLIR (80 km)

Shielded

B-52H-3

$492,189,088

JP6

22.32 tons

217.68 tons

6+1

135

Weather Radar (336 km), Radar (336 km), Tail Radar (105 km), Bombing Radar (83 km), Doppler Radar (64 km), Loran (299 km), Advanced FLIR (80 km)

Shielded

B-52H-4

$448,399,872

JP6

22.32 tons

217.68 tons

6+1

136

Weather Radar (336 km), Radar (336 km), Tail Radar (105 km), Bombing Radar (83 km), Doppler Radar (64 km), Loran (299 km), Advanced FLIR (80 km)

Shielded

B-52H-5

$457,750,528

JP6

22.32 tons

216.02 tons

5+1

138

Weather Radar (336 km), Radar (336 km), Tail Radar (105 km), Bombing Radar (83 km), Doppler Radar (64 km), Loran (299 km), Advanced FLIR (80 km)

Shielded

B-52H-6

$683,145,600

JP6

22.32 tons

216.02 tons

5+1

140

Weather Radar (336 km), Radar (336 km), Tail Radar (105 km), Bombing Radar (83 km), Doppler Radar (64 km), Loran (299 km), Advanced FLIR (80 km)

Shielded

YB-52H

$798,529,728

JP-6

20.09 tons

221.41 tons

6+1

153

Weather Radar (370 km), Radar (370 km), Tail Radar (60 km), Bombing Radar, (92 km). Doppler Radar (71 km), Loran (329 km), Advanced FLIR (88 km)

Shielded

YB-52J

$683,187,264

JP-6

22.32 tons

211.73 tons

6+1

140

Weather Radar (409 km), Radar (409 km), Tail Radar (66 km), Bombing Radar (102 km), Doppler Radar (79 km), Loran (361 km), Advanced FLIR (97 km)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

Armor

B-52A

1960

914 (169)

NA  122  4/2  60/50

134761

7316

15420

FF7  CF7  RF7  T6  W8

B-52B

1838

857 (169)

NA  114  4/2  60/50

134761

9857

14417

FF7  CF7  RF7  T6  W8

RB-52B

1838

857 (169)

NA  114  4/2  60/50

134761

9857

14417

FF7  CF7  RF7  T6  W8

B-52C

1894

942 (169)

NA  125  4/2  60/50

135139

9857

13960

FF7  CF7  RF7  T6  W8

B-52D

1894

942 (169)

NA  125  4/2  60/50

135139

9857

13960

FF8  CF7  RF7  T6   W8

B-52D (Big Belly)

1879

934 (169)

NA  124  4/2  60/50

135139

9936

13960

FF8  CF7  RF7  T6   W8

B-52E

1894

942 (169)

NA  125  4/2  60/50

135139

9857

14082

FF8  CF7  RF7  T6   W8

B-52F

1894

942 (169)

NA  130  4/2  60/50

157295

9857

14234

FF8  CF7  RF7  T6   W8

B-52G

1974

982 (169)

NA  135  4/2  60/50

181853

10277

14326

FF8  CF7  RF7  T7  W8

B-52H/B-52H-1

1992

920 (170)

NA  127  5/2  70/40

1133481

12291

14539

FF8  CF7  RF7  T7  W8

B-52H-2/3/4

2070

1992 (160)

NA  175  5/2  70/40

1133481

12291

14539

FF8  CF8  RF7  T7  W8

B-52H-5/6

2091

2012 (155)

NA  177  5/2  70/40

1133481

11062

14539

FF8  CF8  RF7  T7  W8

YB-52H

2039

1962 (140)

NA  173  6/4  80/35

1133481

11339

14539

FF8  CF8  RF7  T7  W8

YB-52J

2099

2020 (160)

NA  178  5/2  70/40

1133481

10620

15993

FF8  CF8  RF7  T7  W8

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

B-52A

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (35 Each), RWR, ECM 3), ECCM 3, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+1 (Bombing) or +2 (Tail Guns)

4xM-2HB, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

600x.50

B-52B

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (35 Each), RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 3, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+1 (Bombing) or +2 (Tail Guns)

4xM-2HB, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

600x.50

RB-52B

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (40 Each), RWR, ECM 5, ECCM 5, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, ELINT 2

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+1 (Bombing) or +2 (Tail Guns)

4xM-2HB, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

600x.50

B-52C

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (40 Each), RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 3, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+1 (Bombing) or +2 (Tail Guns)

4xM-2HB, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

600x.50

B-52D

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (48 Chaff, 56 Flares), RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 5, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, TFR

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+1 (Bombing) or +2 (Tail Guns)

4xM-2HB, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

600x.50

B-52E

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (48 Chaff, 56 Flares), RWR, ECM 5, ECCM 5, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, TFR

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+2 (Both)

4xM-2HB, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

600x.50

B-52F

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (48 Chaff, 56 Flares), RWR, ECM 5, ECCM 5, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, TFR

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+3 (Bombing) or +2 (Tail Guns)

4xM-3, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

600x.50

B-52G

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (60 Chaff, 58 Flares), RWR, ECM 5, ECCM 5 Active Jamming, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, TFR

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+3 (Bombing) or +3 (Tail Gun)

20mm M-61 Vulcan, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

1242x20mm

B-52H

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75 Chaff, 90 Flares), 10 Chaff Rockets, RWR, ECM 5, ECCM 5, IRCM 3, ELINT 2, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, TFR

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+3 (Bombing) or +3 (Tail Gun)

20mm M-61 Vulcan, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

1242x20mm

B-52H

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75 Chaff, 100 Flares), 10 Chaff Rockets, RWR, ECM 5, ECCM 5, TRCM 3, ELINT 2, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, VLF/LR Radios Secure Radios, TFR, Inertial Navigation, GPS

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+3 (Bombing) or +3 (Tail Gun)

20mm M-61 Vulcan, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

1242x20mm

B-52H-1/2/3/4

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75 Chaff, 100 Flares), 10 Chaff Rockets, RWR, ECM 5, ECCM 5 ,IRCM 3, ELINT 2, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, TFR, Inertial Navigation, GPS

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+3 (Bombing) or +3 (Tail Gun)

20mm M-61 Vulcan, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

1242x20mm

B-52H-5/6

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75 Chaff, 159 Flares), 10 Chaff Rockets, RWR, ECM 5, ECCM,5 IRCM 3, ELINT 2, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, VLF/LR Radios Secure Radios, TFR, VAS, Inertial Navigation, GPS

2200/2600m Hardened Runway

+3 (Bombing) or +3 (Tail Gun)

2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

Nil

YB-52J

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (75 Chaff, 159 Flares), 10 Chaff Rockets, RWR, Stealth 1, ECM 5, ECCM 5, IRCM 4, ELINT 3, Magnetic Compass, Gyrocompass, Secure Radios, VLF/LR Radios Secure Radios, TFR, VAS, Inertial Navigation, GPS

2000/2400m Hardened Runway

+3 (Bombing) or +3 (Tail Gun)

20mm M-61 Vulcan, 2xExtra Large Hardpoints, 2 Wet Hardpoints, Double Bomb Bay

1242x20mm

 

F-111 Aardvark

     Notes: Despite the designation, this is not a fighter, but is in fact a medium bomber.  It has variable geometry (swing) wings, which change the sweep angle automatically according to speed.  The aircraft has four hardpoints and an internal bomb bay.  In the F-111E, this normally carries up to 1.8 tons of weapons, or a 20mm Vulcan pod with 2084 rounds of ammunition; in the F-111F, this bay carries the Pave Tack pod, but the Pave Tack pod may be removed and internal weapons carried instead.  If internal weapons only are carried, the weapons do not count when determining agility or turning.  The F-111 uses an escape pod instead of ejection seats; the entire cockpit is ejected in an aerodynamic shell, and lowered on a parachute.  This pod floats.  The F-111 is capable of in-flight refueling and nuclear weapons delivery.  In addition to the USAF, the Aardvark is used by Australia.

 

Early F-111s

     The F-111A was the first model.  It was designed under the TFX (Tactical Fighter Experimental) program.  At first, it was meant to be a long-range defensive fighter, and was to carry two Phoenix missiles in its bomb bay allow with two Sidewinder missiles, and four Sparrow (later AIM-120) missiles in its inner wing hardpoints.

     The F-111 had a checkered history, suffering several mysterious crashes during its first deployments to the Vietnam War.  It was one of the first operational aircraft to use a variable-geometry (“swing”) wing, allowing good performance at high and low speeds and a comparatively short takeoff and landing run.  Compared to later Aardvarks, the F-111A was a relatively primitive aircraft, with unsophisticated ECM systems, bombsights that were heavily slaved to the radar (if performing radar or level bombing only, RF is +2), and the swing wing was not automatic.  The original 11 had conventional ejection seats; on all others, the entire cockpit capsule was blasted out of aircraft, supposedly to increase crew safety.  However, landing in the crew capsule usually resulted in severe injuries to the crew; this was partially ameliorated by the use of one large parachute instead of three smaller ones (which usually resulted in the three chutes streamering around each other in tests).

     The F-111B was to be a naval interceptor version of this aircraft, but this version was cancelled.  The F-111B had the same basic structure as the F-111A, but the side-by-seating was a concession to the Navy, as was the escape crew capsule. The nose was 2.6 meters shorter than the F-111A, necessitating a smaller, less capable radar to be mounted.  In the end, however, the Navy decided that the F-111B was a lost cause and began preliminary work on what would become the F-14 Tomcat.  I have done no stats below for the F-111B.

     The RF-111A was supposed to be a tactical reconnaissance version of the RF-111; a prototype was built, but the project was not carried further.  The RF-111A did not have the ability to carry weapons and had no fire control software, though its wing hardpoints were envisioned to carry one or two extra fuel tanks per wing.  In its bomb bay, the RF-111A would carry several film, TV, and infrared cameras, as well as a primitive digital suite that could transmit grainy pictures back to base. The RF-111A had a radar boresight mode, used to focus a single camera on a target, and a long-range laser rangefinder, used to keep the camera suite on target. Imagery obtained good results; imagery from the digital system was even better than expected,  However, the USAF baled because, while General Dynamics assured the Air Force that conversions would only take a few hours and could be done in the field, in fact conversions took several days and needed considerable technical support to accomplish.  The RF-111A, had it worked out, would have been an excellent reconnaissance platform because it supported complex electronics, was a stable reconnaissance platform, and could absorb damage while maintaining the ability to take stable pictures.  It was also fairly light next to most F-111s and was therefore a fast variant.  Therefore, I have included a version of the RF-111A below as a “what-if.”

     In 1969, the RAF and British MoD, in the wake of the TSR.2 debacle (and it was a fiasco – almost on scale with the Avro Arrow fiasco in Canada), still felt the need for a light, nuclear-capable, tactical bomber.  They thus looked to the US, and the then-new F-111A.  (And the F-111A for that time would have been a step down from TSR.2 – someday, I’m going to have to put the TSR.2 in the Best Aircraft That Never Were section…)  Anyway, the RAF and MoD, already haven taken twin body-blows from the costs of the defunct TSR.2 program, were than shocked again by the potential costs of training, conversion, and maintenance of the  F-111A, and pulled the plug, eventually deciding to go with the Blackburn Buccaneer for the nuclear low-altitude penetration role.  The British version would have been essentially the same as the F-111A, except for its nomenclature, which would have been the F-111K.

 

Australian F-111Cs

     The F-111C is the Australian Air Force version; it is an F-111A with the longer wings of the FB-111A, more hardpoints, a reinforced undercarriage, and upgraded radar, bomb delivery systems, and ECM.  It also has some of the electrical system of the F-111B, which was felt by the RAAF to be more robust. The F-111C was to replace the RAAF’s antiquated Canberra bombers.  The F-11C was equipped with a forward-looking attack radar, which could also be used as a weather radar, used for navigation, air-to-ground delivery of ASMs and as a bombing radar.  It had a multimode radar, and could in fact perform all these functions at once. Theoretically, the F-111C’s radar could also be used in the air-to-air mode (for use with a Vulcan cannon or air-to-air missiles), but the Australians never used their F-111Cs in that way.

     Four unmodified F-111As were also bought by the RAAF and equipped as RF-111Cs.  They have cameras, IR Cameras, and early digital reconnaissance equipment in its bomb bay. The bay also has a small bubble which contains a TV system that keeps the reconnaissance equipment lined upon the targets. Some of the radar modifications of the F-111C were also added.

     Originally the F-111C’s were to keep in the inventory until 2020, but upgrade and maintenance costs led the Australians to return the F-111Cs and RF-111Cs to Palmdale. California, where they were made, and now they are kept in working order as the Boneyard.  The Australians got unnamed vehicles, aircraft, and other concessions for the return of essentially well-kept and modified F-111s.

 

F-111D/E

     In the late 1960s, soon after the development of the F-111A, the USAF and DoD decided to “max up” the F-111A.  They did this by replacing the engines with a pair of Pratt & Whitney TF30P-9 engines, a nearly 30% in power.  In addition, the F-111D has special Triple Plow 2 intakes, which prevent the compressor stalls at low speed all too frequent on F-111As  The Mark II electronics suite revolved around 7 items – INS patched to the attack and bombing radar, an IBM computer system to master all the aircraft’s functions (though the F-111D was not a fly by wire aircraft), an integrated display set (an early version of a glass cockpit), a Doppler radar to sharpen the other radar and INS systems, and stores management, and a forward-looking/TFT radar with MTI.  In addition, the F-111D could use radar-homing AAMs, though they were almost never carried.

     This was all good, but the scale of improvements took a great deal of time and rebuilding. The F-111D did not fly until 1970, then was put on hold after an F-111A crash.  It was not until late 1971 before the first examples were sent to an Air Force unit for testing, and IOC wasn’t declared until late 1972. Then, seemingly just to rain on the parade, the F-11D was crippled by software problems during most of 1972.  The F-11D was not considered operationally ready until early 1974.  It was not until then that the F-11D’s problems were finally ironed out for good (for the most part; there were still some “ghosts in the machine” that were not chased down for a few months).  The F-111D Fleet remained at their home base at Cannon AFB until the early 2000s.

     Meanwhile, the DoD was getting impatient with how long the F-111D was taking in development and how long its software was taking ti iron out.  So the DoD commissioned the F-111E, a simplified version of the F-111D.  (It should be noted that the Air Force did not want the F-111E, feeling it was simply a “dumbed-down” version of the F-111D that they really wanted.  It should be further noted that the F-111E’s development also slipped, though not as much as the F-111D, due to F-111A accidents.)  The F-111E has the same engines as the F-111D, but paired with simplified air intakes that did not eliminate all of the low-speed compressor stalls.  The F-111E threw out nearly all of the F-111D’s avionics and software suite, substituting a radar system based on a lower-power radar which was used for navigation, the TFR suite, ASM and bombing targeting,  It did not have a master computer to monitor and correct the avionics and weapons suite.  It did have an air to air mode, though again it was almost never used.  The F-111E suffered heavily from losses in Vietnam and accidents, and the entire fleet was grounded (though lifted in in 1970).

     The first prototype of the F-111E was loaned to NASA for tests in support of the Integrated Propulsion Support System. This was sort of a fly-by-wire system that controlled the changes in weight caused by changes in win sweep, contents of the bomb bay, and fuel state.  The first such flight was carried out in mid-1975, the last in early 1976.  The modified F-111E was returned to it’s normal configuration.  Later, it was used as a chase plane for the then-new B-1A bomber (the B-1 hadn’t been given the name Lancer yet).

 

F-111F

     TAC (Tactical Air Command) ordered a “plus version of the F-111D in 1970, and the entire F-111F wing was declared operational by late 1972. (At that point, the final bombing halt had been declared, but the F-111F would later see action in the first and second bombings of Libya and in Desert Storm. (The Dale Brown story Chains of Command has the protagonist on a mission to Baghdad in Desert Storm in a modified F-111F with a nuclear weapon; he refuses to obey orders to nuke Baghdad and gets in a lot of trouble thereafter…)  No F-111Fs were lost in Desert Storm and only one in the Libyan strikes despite being engaged several times by aircraft and SAMs, a testament to their combat effectiveness.  The F-111Fs were particularly impressive during Desert Storm, due to their ability to deliver precision-guided ordnance under all weather conditions.  They were also the only aircraft able to deliver the hastily-devised GBU-28 5000-pound “Bunker Busters.”

     The first 30 F-111Fs were engined with the same TF30P-9 engines of the F-111D; this was done because the F-111F’s TF30P-100s were not ready when the first prototypes and LRIP models were rolled out and the Air force wanted to get the bugs worked out of the new avionics and to start training new crews.  The prototypes and LRIPs were later re-engined with the more powerful (and reliable) TF30P-100s.  One other mechanical component that was improved was the main landing gear, which which in previous models did collapse on occasion. The F-111F carried a simpler (ie, more modernized) avionics suite that did the avionics suite on the F-111D about two steps better. The avionics centered around the Mark IIB avionics suite, which included a navigational and digital weapons computer which was borrowed from the FB-111A (also being developed at the time).  The attack reticule used a reticule which could be widened out to 2.5 miles, made possible by the attack computer’s 0.2-second pulse-width capacity.

     The F-111F has the standard F-111 weapons bay, which can carry air-to-air missiles, bombs or ASMs, or a Vulcan cannon.  It should be also noted that the F-111F has the ability to carry almost any type of air-to-air missile on its wing pylons or in it’s bomb bay (it can, for example, theoretically carry four AMRAMMs or Sparrows in its bomb bay if the Pave Tack is not carried), in practice neither AAMs or the Vulcan cannon has been carried on any operational mission. However, the F-111F normally carried in the bay the Pave Tack Pod, which gave the F-111F a long-range laser designator and FLIR-capability.  The FLIR and laser designator are boresighted to a rotating TV receiver which allows the F-111F to record the bombing and essentially do its own BDAR. (This is why in some videos of the F-111Fs bombing Libyan airfields, the picture suddenly flips upside down.) The FLIR and TV views are also shown on the WSO’s monitors, so they can get an instant idea of how well they did in their bombing run and whether they might have to go around again.

 

FB-111A

     OK, let’s go back to the F-111A.  Yes, all the way back there. (It wasn’t really a big difference in time, anyway.)  The Air Force thought, “We need an interim replacement for the B-52 and B-58 until the B-1A is available, and why don’t we modify some of the impending F-111As to fulfill the role?  We don’t have to keep them forever, anyway… (And if only the Air Force know how soon the FB-111A would be retired and how long the B-52 would stick around!) Some DoD officials, including Robert McNamara, thought the aircraft should have been designated the BF-111A, but the Air Force was against that. 

     The Air Force wanted 263 FB-111As, but Robert McNamara cut that order to 126, plus a few examples for training, testing, and development.  McNamara cited the rising costs of the FB-111A program.  From inception to last deliveries, the FB-111A program went from 1965-1971.

     General Dynamics took the F-111A and lengthened the fuselage by a meter to accommodate a larger bomb bay., then they took the longer wings that the F-111B was supposed to have; when they were in their fully forward position, the FB-111A had a wingspan over two meters wider.  Due to the extra hardpoints and larger bomb bay, internal fuel load was not as large, but the new engines and air intakes made the FB-111A more fuel-efficient. .The engines were replaced by more powerful TF30P-7 engines, and to keep them properly fed with air, used the new Triple Plow II air intakes that would later be used on the F-111E and F. It had stronger landing gear for the heavier weight in aircraft in weapons, It was equipped with the Mark IIB avionics suite which was planned for the F-111F, except with the displays (which were in of themselves advanced for the time) of the F-111D. (It did not have the Pave Tack pod, it having not been developed yet, but the FB-111A did have a decent laser designator and night vision, as well as a beacon-following capability and a photo-recorder.)

     Though the FB-111A could carry a host of weapon types in its enlarged bomb bay and four wing pylons, but its primary offensive weapon was to be the AGM-69A SRAM, which would later make appearances on the B-52 and B-1. (More on the SRAM in US ASMs, if it’s not there already…if it is there, it’s probably wrong considering the research I’ve done lately on it.)

     When the B-1B Lancer came into service and took the FB-111A’s role as a long-range penetration bomber, the FB-111As became redundant.  Their ability to carry nuclear weapons was removed and deleted from their software, and they took the tactical deep-penetration strike role. At this point, they were redesignated F-111Gs. A Have Quick UHF radio was installed, able to communicate with ground units and ships in the littoral combat zone.

     F-111Gs has their capability to carry SRAMs and nuclear weapons removed (including from their software.  A conventional weapons carriage and release system was re-installed, allowing gravity-bomb and AAM use.  Unlike almost all F-111s, the F-111Gs were known to have carried their Vulcan cannon on some strike missions during Desert Storm. In 1994, the RAAF bought 16 F-111Gs, but they returned them to the US about the same time as their F-111Cs; like the F-111Cs, they were originally supposed to stay on with the RAAF until 2020 and be further modified in that time, but were taken out of service in the late-1990s for the same reasons.

 

However…

     In 1979, the B-1B Lancer was still not ready for action.  In response, the General Dynamics proposed a lengthened, upgraded, up-engined version of the FB-111A, using versions of the same engines that would have been used on the B-1A. Heavily upgraded, it had a larger fuel capacity to provide fuel to the new fuel-hungry engines and provide a bit extra range.  The FB-111B was to provide nuclear alert role, with four SRAMs in the bomb bay and four SRAMs under each wing.  The avionics were to be sort of an amalgamation of the FB-111A and F-111G, along with upgraded attack computers and software and better radar and night vision/VAS, along with some new gadgets.

     In 1980, however, other General Dynamics executives thought they could take the low-level penetration mission away from Rockwell outright.  They essentially started working to build an upgraded FB-111A, then started getting ideas from the technicians working on the FB-111B, then took the idea even further. And created (on paper and in large-scale models, anyway), the FB-111H.

     Personally, I think the FB-111H would have been an awesome version of the F-111 series to have had in service,  It was similar in idea to the FB-111B, but extended even longer, with a bomb bay greatly increased in size (big enough for 12 SRAM missiles, for example).  It would have had six hardpoints which could carry a variety of weapons or tanks – for example six SRAMs or twelve ALCMs, and the wings could sweep with all hardpoints occupied.  It was also to have an enhanced conventional strike capability, with all hardpoints being able to pivot with the wings.  The avionics were based on those of the FB-111A and F-111G, but, as Walt Disney would say, “plussed.”  The fire control, navigation, and main computers were state-of-the-art (for the late 1970s-early 1980s).  The FB-111H used the same engines as the B-1B and that the FB-111B would have used.  Almost everything avionics-related was new or state-of-the-art.  Internal fuel capacity was increased.  The new bomb bay could no longer mount a Vulcan cannon, but this was thought of as unimportant since F-111-series aircraft almost never carried one operationally. 

     I personally think the FB-111H would have been able to carve out a decent niche complementing the B-1B; there are a lot of missions that don’t require a heavy bomber, but where a medium bomber would fit just right, and you need something more than a fighter-bomber.  The stats below, however, are highly conceptualized and may be nothing like a real FB-111H would have been.

 

EF-111A Raven

     The EF-111A Raven will be covered in US Special Aircraft.

 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

F-111A

$45,204,982

JP5

13.61 tons

28.8 tons

2

32

Radar (150 km), Bombing Radar (90 km)

Shielded

RF-111A

$89,795,989

JP5

9 tons

24 tons

2

34

Radar (150 km), FLIR (90 km), VAS (45 km), 3xFilm Camera (60 km), Digital Camera (40 km)

Shielded

F-111C

$95,553,400

JP5

13.82 tons

28.9 tons

2

34

Radar (150 km), FLIR (90 km), VAS (45 km), 3xFilm Camera (60 km), Digital Camera (40 km)

Shielded

RF-111C

$91,494,960

JP5

11 tons

24 tons

2

34

Radar (150 km), FLIR (90 km), VAS (45 km)

Shielded

F-111D

$141,676,350

JP5

13.33 tons

30 tons

2

33

Radar (185 km) Bombing Radar (110 km)

Shielded

F-111E

$118,063,625

JP5

13.78 tons

28.8 tons

2

32

Radar (158 km), Bombing Radar (95 km)

Shielded

F-111F

$161,622,212

JP5

14.23 tons

32.57 tons

2

36

Radar (205 km), Bombing Radar (120 km), (With Pave Tack) FLIR (40 km), 3rd Gen Image Intensification (40 km), VAS (40 km)

Shielded

FB-111A

$214,494,777

JP5

17.73 tons

37.96 tons

2

40

Radar (225 km), Bombing Radar (135 km), FLIR (45 km), VAS (45 km), Photo Recorder (20 km)

Shielded

F-111G

$214,494,777

JP5

17.73 tons

33.43 tons

2

41

Radar (225 km), Bombing Radar (135 km), FLIR (45 km), VAS (45 km), Photo Recorder (20 km)

Shielded

FB-111B

$292,165,344

JP5

18.8 tons

35.44 tons

2

41

Radar (250 km), Bombing Radar (150 km), FLIR (50 km), VAS (50 km), Photo Recorder (22 km)

Shielded

FB-111H

$313,401,044

JP5

19.19 tons

35.71 tons

2

43

Radar (280 km), Bombing Radar (170 km), FLIR (50 km), VAS (50 km), Photo Recorder (25 km)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

Armor

F-111A

2899/3343

806/1232 (105)

NA  201/308  5/3  50/35

19090

3649

17679

FF5  CF6  RF6  T5  W6

RF-111A

3842/4430

1067/1227 (105)

NA  231/266  5/3  50/35

19090

5413

17679

FF5  CF6  RF6  T5  W6

F-111C

2892/3321

803/1222 (100)

NA  200/305  5/3  50/30

19090

3771

17679

FF5  CF6  RF6  T5  W7

RF-111C

3842/4430

1067/1227 (105)

NA  231/266  5/3  50/35

19090

5413

17679

FF5  CF6  RF6  T5  W7

F-111D

2778/3190

772/1175 (105)

NA  185/282  5/3  50/35

19060

3271

17679

FF5  CF6  RF6  T5  W6

F-111E

2892/3321

803/1222 (105)

NA  200/305  5/3  50/35

19090

3271

17679

FF5  CF6  RF6  T5  W6

F-111F

2580/3695

717/1098 (105)

NA  179/274  5/3  50/35

19089

3622

17267

FF5  CF6  RF6  T5  W6

FB-111A

2292/3283

637/976 (100)

NA  159/244  5/3  50/30

18964

3407

15320

FF6  CF6  RF6  T5  W7

F-111G

2598/3271

722/1033 (100)

NA  228/326  5/3  50/30

18964

3407

15320

FF6  CF6  RF6  T5  W7

FB-111B

3401/4825

945/1191 (100)

NA  228/285  5/3  50/30

20292

4741

18000

FF6  CF7  RF6  T5  W7

FB-111H

3376/4790

938/1183 (100)

NA  226/283  5/3  50/30

20900

4741

18000

FF6  CF7  RF6  T5  W7

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

F-111A

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (50/50), Advanced RWR, ECM 2 ECCM 1, TFR (40 km), INS, Secure Radios

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+2

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 6 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

RF-111A

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (50/50), Advanced RWR, ECM 2, ECCM 1, TFR (40 km), INS, Secure Radios, Radar Boresight, HUD Interface

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

Nil

6 Hardpoints

Nil

F-111C

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (55/55), Advanced RWR, ECM 2, ECCM 1, IRCM 1, TFR (40 km), INS, Secure Radios, Radar Boresight

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 8 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

RF-111C

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (55/55), Advanced RWR, ECM 2, ECCM 1, IRCM 1, TFR (40 km), INS, Secure Radios, Radar Boresight, HUD Interface

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

Nil

8 Hardpoints

Nil

F-111D

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (60/60), Advanced RWR, ECM 2, ECCM 2, IRCM 1, TFR (44 km), INS, Secure Radios, HUD Interface, Track While Scan, Auto Track

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 6 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

F-111E

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (50/50), Advanced RWR, ECM 2, ECCM 1, TFR (44 km), INS, Secure Radios, HUD Interface, Track While Scan

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+2

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 6 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

F-111F

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (60/60), Advanced RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 2, IRCM 2, TFR (44 km), INS, Secure Radios, HUD Interface, Track While Scan, Auto Track, Target ID, (With Pave Tack) Laser Designator (40 km)

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+3, (With Pave Tack) +4

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 6 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay (Except with Pave Tack)

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

FB-111A

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (70/70), Chaff Rocket (1), Advanced RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 3, IRCM 2, TFR (50 km), INS, Secure Radios, HUD Interface, Track While Scan, Auto Track, Laser Designator (40 km)

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 8 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

F-111G

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (70/70), Chaff Rocket (1), Advanced RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 3, IRCM 2, TFR (50 km), INS, Secure Radios, HUD Interface, Track While Scan, Auto Track, Laser Designator (40 km), Radar Boresight

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 8 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

FB-111B

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (80/80), Chaff Rocket (1), Advanced RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 3, IRCM 2, TFR (55 km), INS, Secure Radios, HUD Interface, Track While Scan, Auto Track, Laser Designator (40 km), Radar Boresight

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan (Optional), 8 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

(Optional) 2084x20mmM61

FB-111H

All Weather Flight, Flare/Chaff (80/80), Chaff Rocket (1), Advanced RWR, ECM 3, ECCM 3, IRCM 3, TFR (55 km), Radio Jamming 1, INS, Secure Radios, HUD Interface, Track While Scan, Auto Track, Laser Designator (50 km), Radar Boresight

1400/1105m Hardened Runway

+3

6 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

Nil