Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Philosophical LRSB-21

The Philosophical LRSB-21 is rushing forward in a race to production. The sooner it can be produced, the quicker Northrop mitigates financial risks for the program, and the picture below may look familiar.

Air Force Depiction of LRSB-21, 2nd addition below:
(U.S. Air Force graphic)

B-2 Bomber First Edition Below:

Image result for b-2 bomber
Northrop will build on a progression of success from its B-2 program. The philosophical part comes from the Air Force interpretation for the builder does not go unnoticed. Since it is not a sole improvement on a prior frame type, the fixed cost approach is thrown out by the DOD. Since it isn't a blue sky program the Air Force won't go overboard with cost plus on the LSRB-21. The current chosen philosophy by the Air Force allows a nurturing program with guidance keen on watching costs. Runaway cost killed the F-22 success and closed such a promising program down dead in its tracks with only 182 operating in the service. The F-22 proved to be way ahead of its time and place. The F-35 followed on and devoured the F-22 financial life out of it. It currently remains at the cross road of survival having a LRSB-21 coming on.

Fortunately the LSRB-21 will remain on track, since it is governed by the enormous dollars spent prior to its announcement. The KC-46, F-22, and F35 programs all have shaped the LRSB-21 current award process demonstrating an updated philosophical approach for making a bomber.

An important pressure is applied on Northrop through an incentive idea using the carrot of efficient and effective production to delivery model. This is the important as the award recognizes the tipping point against Boeing's bid. Boeing did not have an operating new generation bomber in the service to draw from, for its pursuit of an award. Northrup had a new bomber knowledge, infrastructure, and delivery record for such an Air Force proposition.

The philosophical element evolving from recent program awards, doomed any fresh off the design board notion without any prior working record supporting such an idea. This doomed Boeing's attempt.

Northrop can only mitigate its risks for finishing with program completeness, by bringing the LRSB-21 to operational status sooner rather than later. Northop entry into service is a proven possibility through its B-2 proof of concept now in service. The LRSB-21 looks so much like the B-2 that it tells a story that Northrup is bringing forward everything it has learned from its prior program and then adding ancillary new technological compliments to the LSRB program. The Air Force liked the proposal as Northrup would make it more probable the Air Force would get its number of LRSB's needed for replacing the 60 year old heavy bombers, the B-52.

Risk is mitigated going the Northrop way and the military could not afford another F-22 experience nor could it experience a spiraling out of control F-35 project. In fact the LSRB conceptual proposal did not have a former frame in which to apply a fixed cost KC-46 approach. 

The acquisition process evolved more by circumstance the military finds itself in, than going "Willie-Nillie" with a "Blue Sky" approach on any given project. The Air Force has to have a certainty within a bid process which will allow program completeness without breaking the treasury while going into infinity developing the bomber replacement. It had to find someone who could replace the bomber first, then find someone who had the know-how to build it advanced of fifth generation technology, and finally a company who had been incentivize for the awarding of the LSRB-21.  Northrop-Grumman was such a company.