The new Long Range Strike Bomber, or B-3 as it has been dubbed, will do more than just drop bombs, Defense One website reported.
Service leaders have said that they plan to buy 80 to 100 aircraft for about $550 million each, and will award a contract to either Northrop Grumman or a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team possibly at this week’s Air Force Association convention near Washington.
David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who was the principal attack planner for the 1991 air campaign against Iraq, calls the new weapon a ‘long range sensor shooter.’ According to him the new aircraft will be a stealthy bomb truck built to carry tons of munitions into ‘contested airspace.’
Furthermore, like the B-2 bomber and the F-22 and F-35 fighters, the new aircraft will have its antennas implanted in its skin. These antennas will allow aircrew to get detailed pictures of the ground and sky in targeted areas. It will also be able to sweep the electromagnetic spectrum for other traces on the enemy’s forces.
The B-3 will also have another role. It will be a ‘Battle Manager,’ meaning it will gather and crunch data as it goes, using its high-bandwidth communications to send information and even directions to satellites, other aircraft, and even ground forces.
Eventually the new aircraft will be a successor to the B-1 and B-52, the only Air Force bombers currently permitted to drop nuclear weapons.
And if that is not enough the new weapon may eventually get a laser or microwave weapon. The Navy is already experimenting with lasers to shield their ships, and technological advancements have made laser weapons smaller and cheaper to use.