Could this be what a Northrop Grumman LRS-B might look like?

The US Air Force has embarked upon a new Long Range Strike family of systems–one component of which is the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B). But even as the USAF proceeds with the new program in complete secrecy, there are new details emerging about the previous ill-fated Next Generation Bomber (NGB) effort that was cancelled by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2009.

US08292220-20121023-D00001.jpgNorthrop Grumman, which built the B-2 Spirit, is one of three potential contractors who are likely to be building the new LRS-B. While the NGB was terminated, many of those technologies are certain to find new life on the LRS-B. The DEW Line has unearthed a patent filing by Northrop that details some of the features of their old NGB design–it could provide some hints as to what the company is cooking up for the new project.

US08292220-20121023-D00003.jpgThe aircraft, as can be seen in the drawings, shows family traits common to the US Navy X-47B unmanned aircraft demonstrator. In many respects, at least to me, it looks like an X-47B that has been scaled up by a factor of 10 with an added cockpit and more engines. It has the same cranked kite planform–but the (retractable) canards are new. Apparently, they would have only been used during take-offs and landings according to the patent filing text. Also of note, the bomber design has four engines. Interestingly, one of the big innovations was that it was designed for modular construction–which could make it less ungodly expensive.

US08292220-20121023-D00005.jpgIf the rumored Northrop Grumman ISR/Strike aircraft that is purported to be flying does in fact exist, it could share a very similar configuration.

Hopefully more on the LRS family on Monday.

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