US B-3 stealth bomber planned for 2025 will try to get through pickets of large anti-stealth radar drones

A new US bomber, likely called the B-3 (aka Long Range Strike Bomber – LRS-B), will replace all or most of the current fleets of B-52 and B-1 bombers, while complementing the B-2 bombers built by Northrop that have been flying since the 1990s. These will be stealthy, adaptable aircraft that will initially incorporate existing technologies. and as the name implies, be able to bomb targets from a distant range. The contract will be for 80 to 100 aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force misstated the 10-year cost for research, procurement and support of its new long-range bomber in annual reports to Congress. The correct costs estimates $41.7 billion for each of two periods out to 2026. The 10-year cost is the first installment in what could be a 30-year program.

Research-and-Development costs alone are estimated to be around $25 billion, although the bomber is supposed to mainly be built from existing technologies, saving the R and D expenditures associated with new hardware and software.

Specific details on the B-3 program are scant and remain classified. Only three things appear to be mostly locked in: a 2025 in-service-date, a $550-$810 million unit cost (excluding development), and an 80-to-100 aircraft fleet

One analyst called 100 new bombers a “wild fantasy” and expects per unit cost to rise to $3 billion.

The B-3 could also carry bunker-busting, rocket-boosted munitions, high-powered lasers for self-defense and datalinks, and consoles for controlling radar-evading drones.

With a combat radius between 2,000 and 2,500 nautical miles, the US Air Force’s new stealth bomber, known as the Long-Range Strike Bomber or B-3, is capable of flying in Chinese airspace for one hour, reports China Aviation News.

The new bomber has been developed to reach targets located deep in the interior of Russia and China.

China and Russia are trying to develop large drones with multiple Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, of the AMTI, SAR and GMTI varities to detect stealth planes. Airborne Moving Target Indicator (AMTI) radar types are used to track airborne targets, like enemy fighters and cruise missiles. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) provides high resolution of slow moving ground vehicles and enemy bases.

High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV like China’s Divine Eagle could prove useful in both offensive and defensive operations. Its long range anti-stealth capabilities can be used against both aircraft, like the B-2 bomber, and warships such as the DDG-1000 destroyer. Using the Divine Eagle as a picket, the Chinese air force could quickly intercept stealthy enemy aircraft, missiles and ships well before they come in range of the Mainland.

Stealth planes are never completely invisible, as they will always generate a radar signature in the end according to Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. If you are seen five miles from your target, compared to be being spotted 100 miles away, then it will have done its job.

Anti-stealth countermeasures are now “proliferating”. Whereas most radars operate between 2GHz and 40GHz, a low-band equivalent such as VHF radar operates between 1MHz and 2MHz and is able to pick out most stealth planes that are known to be flying today.

The Russians persevered with low-band radar due to their technological conservativism.

VHF can pick up “noise” such as clouds and rain, which was a reason why the West abandoned it – it does have basic physics on its side: its wavelength is the same magnitude as the prominent features on many stealth planes, so that its signal bounces back.

Russia and China (UK, USA, Australia, Israel, South Korea and basically any country with a modern air force) have VHF-Aesa (Actively scanned electronic array) radars.

Aesa (Actively scanned electronic array) radars like those supposedly on China’s Divine Eagle drone are made up of a large number of solid state, chip-like modules that each emit an individual radio wave; these meet in front of the antenna to form a beam that can be easily aimed at a very specific target – and, combined with VHF, are an effective stealth-hunting tool.

Combining different radar and multiple large drones with radar to blanket an area

The final trick is “to combine together different radars into an integrated air-defence system and a central information-processing centre that can make life very difficult for any stealth fighter or bomber”, Sutyagin says. And stealth planes are not always stealthy from every angle (it costs too much money). So if you have radar in front, at the sides and above – with a high-altitude drone such as the Divine Eagle – along with satellite tracking of any target, then it might well be a case of RIP stealth.

Popular Science has coverage of China’s stealth hunting drones and radar

Divine Eagle has 7 radars include a X/UHF AMTI Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar on the front, two X/UHF AMTI/SAR/GMTI AESA radars on the twin booms, two X/UHF AMTI AESA radars on either side of the engine nozzles, and two more radars on the end of the booms. AMTI and GMTI radars are used for tracking air and surface targets, respectively, while SAR is used to provide detailed imagines of ground targets like bases and infrastructure.

Sina Defense. The JY-26 “Skywatch” AESA Radar, operates in the long wave band to detect stealth aircraft, which are often optimized against detection by shorter wavelenghts. The JY-26 is claimed to have a range of 500km and Chinese media claimed it detected F-22 Raptor fighters off the South Korean coast in mid 2014. The Divine Eagle is likely to have similar radar technology to detect stealth bomber and fighters at long range.

SOURCES – Bloomberg, Wantchinatimes, sputnick news, popular science, Wired, wikipedia