B-2′s new radar enters production

The radar modernization program for the B-2 has been delayed more than a year, but has finally transitioned from development to the production phase.

Read more about the delay here.

The US Air Force emailed me this contract announcement this morning:


The Air Force awarded a production contract with the Northrop Grumman Corporation yesterday, December 29, 2008, for the B-2 stealth bomber Radar Modernization Program (RMP).  The production contract, with a target price of approximately $468 million, will provide advanced state-of-the-art radar components to ensure sustained operational viability of the B-2 bomber fleet, at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, well into the foreseeable future.  Northrop Grumman Integrated System, Palmdale, California is the B-2 RMP prime contractor and has significant subcontracting efforts with Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, El Segundo California, Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, New York and BAE Systems, Greenlawn, New York.  The award of the B-2 RMP production contract builds upon successful Initial Operational Test & Evaluation flight tests that were recently completed at Edwards AFB, California.



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11 Responses to B-2′s new radar enters production

  1. Yamashita 31 December, 2008 at 3:58 am #

    LH’s Owego plant is just down the road here in upstate NY. The cats who rigged the military-industrial-congressional national security complex sure knew what scam they were running. Sprinkle sub-contractors in every congressional district. State Dept. official circa 1975: “The military hierarchies of both superpowers have conspired to wage war upon their respective civilian populations.” True.

  2. SMSgt Mac 2 January, 2009 at 6:15 am #

    WHAT military-industrial complex?
    Advice: Answer very carefully.

  3. Yamashita 3 January, 2009 at 3:27 am #

    Well, let’s see, I put in congress, so you are not referring to the Iron Triangle. Perhaps you are referring to the hollowing out of the USA’s manufacturing capacity over the last three decades or so. My take is that it’s not so much a complex as that America is a National Security State. It’s a separate entity. The National Security State exists for itself to perpetuate itself.

    The military exists to preserve and defend the constitution. To protect the people, from which the state is granted its powers. The people don’t exist to serve the military. Look at the election debates going back decades, though the military is part of government, its funding can never be touched. Like the DOD inhabits some separate universe all its own.

    Yeah, some people talk a good game about shrinking the government and curbing state power. But when it comes to our military all bets are off.

    Pardon my rant. I’d very much like to read your advice and thoughts SMSgt Mac.

  4. SMSgt Mac 5 January, 2009 at 9:41 am #

    RE: Look at the election debates going back decades, though the military is part of government, its funding can never be touched. Like the DOD inhabits some separate universe all its own.

    I’m guessing you are either
    a; not an American or
    b: had poor civics and history curricula wherever you went to school.

    One of the major undercurrents in defense spending right now is the movement to guarantee defense funding levels at a certain percentage of GDP. That % is fairly small in the scheme of things, given that “provide for the common defense” is one of the FEW things the government is supposed to do with the budget. This movement to guarantee a level of spending is spurred by the ever-shrinking availability of discretionary spending $ in the budget as ever-increasing entitlements that are considered non-discretionary funds yet do NOT fall within the Constitutionally assigned responsibilities of the Federal Government.

    I’m thinking fondly now back not too many yester-years. Great times, like the last 6 years I was in the AF and the meager cost-of-living adjustments meant that I, like all serving, lost 12% of my buying power to inflation in my paycheck. Or the parts shortages in the 1977-1981 timeframe when we had everything broken and couldn’t fix it because Carter and Co. had not requested funds to keep the force strong. Oh, and how Reagan’s so-called ‘buildup’ was for a large part just putting the flesh back on the bones of defense. But my favorite recollection of all was how Clinton and Aspin (spit) slashed the military to about a third lower than what then-Chairman of the JCS Colin Powell called the ‘Base Force’ – the force size neccessary for the US to maintain its superpower presence and carry out its superpower responsibilities. A force size, I might add, that we are still WAAAY below.

  5. Stephen Trimble 5 January, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

    This is a great discussion. I think it’s very interesting to look at the mobilization crises of World War I and World War II for perspective. In both those cases, US commercial industry adapted very quickly to war production. After the post-World War I bust, which bankrupted many of these companies, commercial industry was extremely wary about such a mobilization. After World War II, the war department certainly de-mobilized, but did not repeat the mistake of abandoning its nascent and very powerful hi-tech weapons industry.

    Now we have an altogether separate industry that is capable of producing ever-increasingly sophisticated weapon systems, but appears to lack the flexibility to respond to changing needs of warfare (see Project Liberty Ship) in a timely way. That’s not across the board. Land vehicles, such as MRAPs, were made available fairly readily (despite very stiff resistance from some in industry and the armed services). But aerospace companies seem to really struggle with balancing the needs of their own production systems and the rapidly emerging needs of new forms of warfare.

    We seen to have solved our World War I mobilization problem, but created another.

  6. Yamashita 6 January, 2009 at 3:48 am #

    I’m American. Please pardon me for sounding like a wiseguy but I’d think you’d have a hard time finding a college survey course, let alone a High School class, dealing with and debating Cold War budget minutiae, other than troop and nuclear weapons levels. Unless one were to take a course on Cold War history, perhaps.

    I’m familiar with the 4% sales pitch. Four Percent for Freedom. Problem is we’ve already surpassed 4% and are around 4.8% when you throw in the supplemental spending and all associated costs, Energy Dept, Homeland Sec. and such, outside the base budget. It seems arbitrary, a nice sounding number and a clever marketing ploy that allows the Iron Triangle from having to make political hard-sells to their constituents.

    In inflation-adjusted dollars the budget is bigger than its ever been since WW2. When Reagan was running for office he said “defense is not a budget item”. But he was only piling on, as you alluded to, to Carter’s Presidential Directive 59 and the Rapid Deployment Force, necessitating massive budget increases.

    Guys, you have more first hand knowledge and experience than me, it seem the problem is technological advances, specifically in Aerospace, Stephen. An F22 or 35 costs a hell of a lot more than a Mustang or P47. As price per unit increases exponentially, how do you pay for more fighting platforms other than exploding the budget? I don’t know.

    And I don’t know if the people representing us and assigned to fix it do either. C.Wright Mills, the 40′s and 50′s sociologist wrote in the The Power Elite: “Despite-perhaps because of- the ostracism of the mind from public affairs, the immorality of accomplishment, and the general prevalence of organized responsibility, the men of the higher circles benefit from the total power of the institutional domains over which they rule…America-a conservative country without any conservative ideology- appears now before the world a naked and arbitrary power, as, in the name of realism, its men of decision enforce their often crackpot definitions upon world reality. The second-rate mind is in command of the ponderously spoken platitude. In the liberal rhetoric, vagueness, and in the conservative mood, irrationality, are raised to principle. Public relations and the official secret, the trivializing campaign and terrible fact clumsily accomplished, are replacing the reasoned debate of political ideas in privately incorporated economy, the military ascendancy, the political vacuum of modern America.”

  7. SMSgt Mac 8 January, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    RE: I’d think you’d have a hard time finding a college survey course, let alone a High School class, dealing with and debating Cold War budget minutiae, other than troop and nuclear weapons levels. Unless one were to take a course on Cold War history perhaps.

    Real history-wherever civilization took a step or made a turn- tends to BE military history. Since my High School days ended in the very early 1970s, the standards have evidently slipped. Or perhaps my HS years were unique due to the ongoing Vietnam War? Perhaps I paid attention more closely than most because my father spent most of ’65 through ‘68 “in-country”? Part of my lament IS over the dearth of university military history programs these days. All the programs have been disappearing in favor of post-modern PC ‘diversity’ programs as the GD Hippies have taken over academia. I attended the 25th annual Hurley Military History Seminar at UNT in 2007, and one of the two speakers (pretty sure it was Victor Davis Hansen) noted the trend and found it as odd and tragic as I do.

    RE: Four Percent for Freedom. Problem is we’ve already surpassed 4% and are around 4.8% when you throw in the supplemental spending and all associated costs, Energy Dept, Homeland Sec. and such, outside the base budget. In inflation-adjusted dollars the budget is bigger than its ever been since WW2.

    And as a percentage of the GDP, the post WW2 standard for expressing the burden on the economy, it is NOT. The 4% is the level we should be spending while at peace. While fighting a major regional contingency or its equivalent I would think it should be closer to around 6-7%.

    RE: An F22 or 35 costs a hell of a lot more than a Mustang or P47. As price per unit increases exponentially, how do you pay for more fighting platforms other than exploding the budget? I don’t know.

    Actually, using $CY the increase in cost/unit is pretty linear (see the very uneven book “the $5 Billion Dollar Misunderstanding” P. 169).

    Your P-51 is good example to work with for providing some perspective:

    By converting P-51D $51K unit costs in 1945-year dollars to 2007 dollars, the 5000 unit P-51D fleet would cost about $4.7B these days. The P-51D was an evolution of earlier versions, so most of P-51D unit cost can be assumed to NOT involve the amortization of a lot of development costs like the initial batch of F-22s. Use of an F-22 unit cost without the development cost amortization included, and is approximately equal to $177.5M a copy for the initial F-22 fleet buy, is therefore close enough for use in this exercise. The 181 Raptor fleet buy costs just over $32B: about 6.8 times the cost of the P-51D fleet. Your car is probably 20-30 times more expensive than a 1940’s sedan. Is it 20-30 times ‘better’?

    So the question is now: what is the F-22’s relative VALUE compared to the P-51 fleet in capabilities? I submit that the F-22 represents FAR more than 6.8 times the value of the P-51D whether it is viewed in terms of survivability OR lethality. On today’s battlefield, the P-51 would have a life expectancy of about zero seconds in combat.

    Does it represent ENOUGH capability? You might be surprised to know that the military does these kinds of tradeoffs on mixing buys of capabilities all the time. I just learned from a recent RAND publication that the AF used the Lanchester’s Square Law to determine the proper mix for the F-15/F-16 ‘high-low’ aircraft numbers buy that would get the capability needed at the lowest net cost. Something similar will probably be employed before it is all over to hash out a balance of F-22s and F-35s – if it hasn’t been already. If you want to control the overall costs to get the best buy – get Congress to quit tweaking the schedules and quantities. And keep things in focus – there has NEVER been a time since the end of WW2 that Americans have had to make a choice between guns and butter: since 1945 we’ve been able to afford whatever we have needed of each.

    RE: And I don’t know if the people representing us and assigned to fix it do either.

    Your citation of Mills is interesting. Funny how one man’s ‘Sociologist’ is just another’s unstable old Marxist cliché eh?
    I highly recommend less fear and more reason – something like Adler’s ‘Six Great Ideas’ for a quick reinvigoration.

    BTW: I can’t tell you how much it disturbs me that Mills came out of Texas (West Texas at that) My apologies to the world on behalf of real Texans everywhere.

  8. Yamashita 9 January, 2009 at 5:50 am #

    I never meant any disrespect to you or your family, SMSgt Mac.

    I don’t doubt that within the USAF hierarchy and the MIC there are smart, dedicated people who discern the necessary requirements to fulfill a national strategy that will defend American interests. And I’m sure you and Stephen have a better grasp of the details and Lanchester’s Laws than me.

    The F22 program with R and D considered costs more than twice as a much as you mentioned and the F35 is the most expensive weapons system in history, $330 mil and counting. Affordable stealth? In the case of the F35, I guess they’re banking on EW playing a major role in future wars because the thing isn’t very stealthy and it sure doesn’t carry enough weapons.

    We’ve put our guns and butter on credit since Vietnam, why do you think Eisenhower attempted to keep the DOD budget under control by having an overwhelming nuke arsenal while keeping conventional arms in check? Nixon had to abandon the gold standard for a reason.

    Many of Mills critics considered him an anti-Marxist. Anytime someone discusses class, wealth inequalities or dares criticize the “Market”,
    they are branded a Marxist. Much like anyone who dares criticize Israel is labeled an anti-Semite. God forbid.

  9. SMSgt Mac 9 January, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    RE: I never meant any disrespect to you or your family, SMSgt Mac.

    Never thought you did. My point was that maybe a (or the) reason I was aware of the history of defense spending, perhaps a little better than most, is because I had a motivation and inclination to do so.
    You will be better served if when you read what I write if you do not look for hidden meanings.

    RE: And I’m sure you and Stephen have a better grasp of the details and Lanchester’s Laws than me.

    Not the point. The point is that the people responsible actually DO the math to aid them in their decisions and rarely do their critics use the same due diligence. Serendipitously, I found a copy that I could download of the now-infamous F-35-Baby Seals RAND brief that was all the news a few weeks ago (even here) just last night, so I finally waded through it. I get to the back and what do I find? — a Lanchester’s Square Law discussion on a backup slide. (Note: I am only reviewing this brief now because of the dispute between those who claim it is a damning document against the current acquisition plan of F-22s and F-35s on the one hand, and RAND who built the brief and say that it isn’t. So far it looks like a continuation of a long series of RAND studies warning against the overreliance on short range aircraft and airbase vulnerability: a concept with which I am certainly sympathetic.)

    RE: The F22 program with R and D considered costs more than twice as a much as you mentioned and the F35 is the most expensive weapons system in history, $330 mil and counting.

    I used the lower number excluding F-22 development and production capability because I couldn’t reasonably develop an estimate of the design and development costs of a P-51D and wanted to compare apples and apples. To incorporate and consoder the develoment costs, I would have to begin with the famous ‘~100 day’ design concept-to-prototype cycle for the original Brit plane design and go forward from there. Those costs would have to include the P-51’s portion of the development of the original Allison and eventual Rolls Royce engine versions. It would have to include the production capability installed at Packard to build the Rolls engine under license. It would have to include the construction of TWO production facilities in CA and TX. It would have to include the R&D needed to field the P-51’s ‘break though’ technologies involving the NACA laminar-flow wing and negative-drag (thrust producing) radiator installation and others, it would have to include the costs of lessons-learned in flight test of the previous versions, and even more intangible, the lessons-learned in combat through operation and attrition that were applied to the P-51D. The comparison made is still valid.

    In mixing unit, total, and development cost concerns, you are falling into the trap employed by Congressfolk who do not have the cajones to admit they are really anti-defense and like to pretend they are just ‘anti-cost I am generally loathe to pimp my own posts at my place, and I hope our host will forgive this one transgression, so I would refer you to Google “Professor Mac’s Acquisition 101 course”. (use the quote marks). In that post on the F-22 you will find info that can be also applied to the F-35. It’s a very old and tiresome game that the Proxmires, Aspins (spit), and now Schumers et al have played and still play to capitalize on the typical American’s short attention span.

    Let me summarize by channeling Oscar Wilde here: too many people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

    RE: In the case of the F35, I guess they’re banking on EW playing a major role in future wars because the thing isn’t very stealthy and it sure doesn’t carry enough weapons.

    What non-professionals often fail to realize is that low observability is a combination of design AND employment (operational) techniques – Inclusion of ECM is in textbooks on the subject BTW. It is also well documented that operators, when asked about ECM and stealth, have repeatedly emphasized they considered it foolish to NOT employ ECM assets if they are available. As too how necessary it might be, only the critics insist it will be necessary.

    As to the ‘sure doesn’t carry enough weapons’ statement: again, not according to those responsible for making such decisions. As a Weapons Guy at heart, I like to see as many weapons as possible carried. But the Structures Guy wants to make it strong enough to pull a billion ‘g’s, the Avionics Guy wants it to be able to spot butterflies at 11000 nm, make popcorn, and get ESPN, the Stealth Guy wants it invisible, the Aero Guy wants it to have zero-drag,and the Logisitcs Guy wants it to never break. ALL aircraft design involves tradeoffs and there is always room for disagreement on the “optimal” design point.

    In the case of the F-35, any discussion of its capabilities that does not include recognition of HOW it is to be employed is pointless. I have a lot of faith in the design concept and product. I reserve judgment on the ability of LM Fort Worth to produce the product.

    RE: We’ve put our guns and butter on credit since Vietnam, why do you think Eisenhower attempted to keep the DOD budget under control by having an overwhelming nuke arsenal while keeping conventional arms in check? Nixon had to abandon the gold standard for a reason.

    Well we’re getting awfully tangential AND smoewhat cliché here. My response is:
    1) If we would stick to Providing for the Common Defense and Promoting the General Welfare instead of the other way around we’d have nothing ‘on credit’.
    2) Eisenhower’s problem, the one he had inherited, was that the American economy had gone on a complete war footing in WW2, and had not yet been able to transition and allow greater consumer spending, because we had gone from the hot WW2 right into the Cold War with the Soviets and an era of proxy conflicts and global jockeying for position.
    3) I’d say the Gold Standard discussion is substantially OT – but let’s just say I disagree with your assessment. I will only point out that one way ties the value of $ to a finite asset, the other ties the value of the $ to the variable and theoretically unlimited creation of wealth within an economy. In both cases, the $ is a proxy for some other thing. One (gold) essentially assumes no creation of wealth, as all wealth always equals X amount of gold. The other assumes that wealth can be created. I’ll take potential over stagnation any day.
    I’m sure we can agree to disagree on some or all of the above.

    RE: Many of Mills critics considered him an anti-Marxist. Anytime someone discusses class, wealth inequalities or dares criticize the “Market”, they are branded a Marxist.

    And perhaps those critics would be just other Marxists perhaps concerned he was not Marxist enough? C’mon! Even the shaky ‘Wiki’ world notes he considered himself ‘a happy Marxist’. The fact he was not Marxist ‘enough’ for some is of no relevance.

    RE: Much like anyone who dares criticize Israel is labeled an anti-Semite.

    I reject this over-generalization out of hand. It depends upon what the criticism of Israel is about that determines whether or not it rises to the level of anti-Semitism. For instance, criticism of Israel over something like the Jonathan Pollard spy case (as I do) cannot be considered anti-Semitic, but criticism of something like Israel’s insistence that they have a right to stop Hamas rockets from flying into their county COULD be anti-Semitic. Criticism of Israel’s right to exist or supporting those who do SHOULD be considered anti-Semitic.

    It’s official: this thread has excessive gyro-drift and needs realignment.

  10. Yamashita 10 January, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    Agreed. I gotta go fire up the snow-thrower.

  11. Jersey City General Contractors 21 July, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Wonderful to read!

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