Technology is now the driving force behind evolution. As new and better things come out, we have to adapt to them and sometimes change our entire lifestyle. One of the best examples of this is how we defend our country. Unmanned vehicles are putting more and more distance between our troops and dangerous situations and the next generation of bombers may adopt the same technology.
Current B2 Spirit
Is has been known for a while now that our long range bombers are obsolete. However, the next full production long range bomber is scheduled for delivery in 2037. The solution is to place a small order, about 100 or so, for a next-generation bomber that could reshape how we think about bombing missions.
The design for the new bomber is a joint effort between Lockheed Martin and Boeing and will be based on the current B-2. While most of the specifics will be kept classified, a few design details are known. The new bombers will be able to fly about 2000 miles before needing an in-air refuel and be able to carry between 14,000lbs and 28,000lbs of ordinance.
The next generation bomber will most likely also feature an improved stealth technology that could significantly reduce the radar signature. The skin of the aircraft would also be improved to better handle rough weather conditions, providing better coverage than the current skin that is fragile and easily damaged.
The new airframe might also be equipped with defensive technology borrowed from the F-22. Air-to-air missiles could be installed to provide protection in case of attack while in the air, while laser weapons or other directed energy weapons could intercept incoming surface-to-air missiles. The armament would also be capable of destroying radar site on the ground.
One of the most interesting rumors is that this next generation aircraft might be part of a large scale program to develop an unmanned nuclear capable long range bomber. The technology is certainly there, but the real question is how much controversy will be sparked if the decision is made to move forward with development.
The new bomber is scheduled to be delivered sometime in 2018. Popular Science