Saturday, September 6, 2008

B-2 or not B-2, That is the Question!

I remember back in 1988, when the B-2 was unveiled. I thought it was a cool thing, since back then the Stealth was the newest thing. They kept having stealth fighters crash. In roughly the same period of time, they had unveiled both the fighter and the new bomber! Also, they were coming out with information on the ATF (Advanced Tactical Fighter), which would eventually have the YF-22 and YF-23 battle it out.

When they unveiled the B-2 there was loads of controversy. They were an awesome platform. These things had tons of prospects! They were prohibitively expensive, though. I still have a cartoon somewhere that has a Hamlet-esque character speaking to a skull in his hand and says, "B-2, or not B-2; that is the question!" The cost was 2 billion bucks a copy?!? Then the Cold War died. Up until that point it had a chance. As soon as the Cold War was over, so were prospects of armadas of radar invisible bombers. The Flying Wing, so long ago envisioned by Jack Northrop, was never to fly in great numbers. I found out recently about the crashof the B-2 on Guam. It had been deployed with two others. There were only 21 B-2s acquired. One rests in the Air Force Museum, and one was destroyed on Guam. That leaves 19 for training, maintenance, operations, and air shows. If you ever read memoirs of the Cold War, you know they had a third of their aircraft in maintenance, up keep, or IRAN (Inspect and Repair As Needed). Then a third of the squadron would be in training, and the final third would be deployed. That leaves roughly 6 B-2s ready for deployment at any one time.

I saw a show on the B-1 Bomber the other day. I did not realize it had been reengined for supersonic flight. Back when I was mildly interested in it, I knew it to be a toothless giant: Subsonic with a small bomb load. Well, apparently she is supersonic now, or my information was out of date. Also she carries a huge load of ordnance! They said that sometimes they will buzz enemy toops and they will disband and the bomber does not have to drop bombs.

The F-22 Raptor was the winner of the YF-22 vs. YF-23 fight. I liked the YF-23 Black Widow better, but, over the past 15 years the F-22 has grown on me. It isn't SO ugly. My understanding was that the YF-23 was more stealthy than the YF-22, but because of the YF-22's vectored thrust, it was a better dogifghter than the YF-23. Something that I found interesting when we visited PIMA, was the front gate guardians. I had always assumed from pictures that they were F-22s...NOPE. They are YF-23s! Look! Must be someone there that liked the Northrop design better, huh? Well, me too!


Andreas said...

Sept.2008 I was hiking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. While fishing, we noticed some plane wreckage in the rocks and spotted the rest of the plane in about 20feet depth of water. Tail section is intact; we believe it is a float plane.
We are unsure who to contact to report the find. It may be recorded somewhere, but we have not been able to discover if this is a known downed plane. What do you suggest we do? Backpacker

Jimh. said...

I would start by calling or emailing the Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, or the Parks system, or the FAA. those are places to start. Good luck, sorry I did not get your message until today, my settings were not set to send me comments...