Have Bombers become obsolete in Modern warfare?

Discussion in 'Military Aviation' started by A.V., May 4, 2009.

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Have bombers become obsolete in modern warfare?

  1. Bombers are still needed

    79 vote(s)
    66.4%
  2. Dedicated bombers not needed

    34 vote(s)
    28.6%
  3. Can't say

    6 vote(s)
    5.0%
  1. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Nah, no worries b. We're all here to learn :).


    Air superiority is not the only prerequisite for a bombing mission. You are disregarding, with deleterious effect, the consequences of ground-based command-and-control centres and surface-to-air batteries. Where these are covered by radars with overlapping airspace coverage, undetected intrusion by conventional aircraft with large exposed RCS's is virtually impossible. On the other hand, stealth aircraft, with detection vulnerabilities only at short ranges from ground-based radars, can exploit substantial gaps in radar coverage, if the appropriate flight path minimizing radial speed and exposing the lowest RCS aspects of the aircraft to the enemy radar is implemented.


    None but the FB-22 is on the backburner. The FB-22 is 'paused' only because of a constraint in funds as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and in anticipation of the interim 2018 fighter. Again, however there are two conflicting hypotheses to this event, and in the event that it is scrapped, it will at the very least, serve as a technological base for the stop-gap fighter. Read my previous post for further clarification.


    We enter the realm of speculation here. You made the following statement to corroborate your position that bombers were obsolete in modern warfare:

    "A future stealth bomber is not in the charts right now. Most nations today are trying to build stealthy 5th gen fighters and stealth UCAVs."

    The evidence confutes that claim.

    The PAK-DA project may be delayed - it may not. But scrapped, it will in all probability not be. As of late 2007, final technical requirements were already formulated, and the involvement of different design bureaus confirmed. In addition, Russia's fleet of Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers, and its fleet of long-range Tu-22M3 bombers have undergone extensive modernization, a testament to the fact that they are not being viewed as 'approaching obsolescence'- atleast by the Russian military establishment. Furthermore, amid the resumption of intercontinental patrols (including the not-so-occasional violation of NATO airspace), reports in late 2007 confirmed the renewal of serial production of the Tu-160 strategic bomber at Kazan, with an anticipated total force of 30 Tu-160's by 2025-2030. See the following for example: Lenta.ru: Îðóæèå: ÂÂÑ Ðîññèè ñôîðìóëèðîâàëè òðåáîâàíèÿ ê ïåðñïåêòèâíîìó äàëüíåìó áîìáàðäèðîâùèêó


    It is. But the project began in 2007, and since then major modifications and considerable weight reduction have ensured it completed a successful maiden flight in 2008.


    I disagree. Stealth technology not only removes the need to defer offensive strike operations against deep, well-protected targets until one establishes air superiority, it also helps create aerial superiority for less survivable platforms. While air superiority remained justifiably at the top of pre-stealth service priorities, the means for obtaining- and temporally maintaining- air superiority have changed considerably. Superior armaments, electronic warfare systems and stealth technology have helped create an aegis of relative invulnerability for a limited time around aircraft in hostile airspace. During Operation Desert Storm for instance, the "42 F-117s (representing 2.5% of USAF in-theater air assets) flew only 2 percent of coalition fixed-wing sorties, yet struck 40 percent of all the "strategic" targets--achieving hits with 80 percent (1,619 hits and 418 misses) of the weapons they released--without losing an aircraft or even being struck by enemy fire". (Figures from: STEALTH, SEA CONTROL, AND AIR SUPERIORITY). Further, many of the F-117 missions were also in direct support of achieving air superiority through the destruction of the enemy's integrated air defenses. The ease with which Israel gained air superiority in the 1967 war against the combined airforces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, through "Shelter-busting" munitions, more easily extensively deployed through the greater ordnances of bomber aircraft, is testament to their worth. From a US perspective, with its doctrine of rapid-paced wars against relatively inferior militaries and proportionately low attrition rates, stealth bombers provide a means by which the order of an air campaign against a forewarned enemy ( air challenge, attempted neutralization of hangared fighters/ air defences ) can effectively be inverted- particularly against countries vis-a-vis which there already exists a pre-established numerical superiority, and also provides a significant early advantage in their far greater ability to cripple industrial and enemy infrastructural installations.


    Further, to corroborate my claims, and from the source:

    "Much has been made about the fact that the first strike of Desert Storm's air campaign was directed against Iraqi air-defense radars. AH-64 Apache helicopters armed with Hellfire missiles conducted the attack 21 minutes before H-hour. Implicit in such commentary about that opening blow is the point that these early warning sites had to be taken out before fixed-wing aircraft could penetrate Iraqi airspace without suffering significant losses. At the time of the Apache attack, however, F-117s were well beyond the sites in question, having flown through the air defense system undetected, and were minutes from successfully attacking hardened air defense intercept operations centers and dozens of other critical air defense, leadership, and command and control targets."

    "...Air superiority was essentially established by daybreak--more by the destruction of the means for massing and controlling Iraqi air assets than by the destruction of aircraft in the air or on the ground. One should note that stealth aircraft directly contributed to establishing air superiority, but not as a prerequisite to their ability to destroy vital target sets such as fixed Scud missile facilities; leadership and command and control nodes; and research, manufacturing, and potential nuclear-storage sites. Had large numbers of nonstealthy aircraft not yet arrived and been standing by to participate (or had not been necessary for the prosecution of a smaller conflict or a limited strike), stealth sorties in support of air superiority could have been deferred until those other aircraft were staged and ready, and until air strikes required the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD).

    In any event, the establishment of air superiority in Desert Storm was not accomplished by a lengthy and costly process of destroying Iraqi airframes, but by the decapitation and intimidation of the means of controlling them. Air defense radars and ground-based fighter control centers proved to be ideal targets for stealthy attack aircraft armed with PGMs and will continue to be so in future regional conflicts. Therefore, the highly capable stealthy air forces to be composed of F-117s, B-2s, and F-22s,--if fielded in sufficient numbers--will provide new options to establish air superiority extremely early in such conflicts and from great distances."


    In essence therefore, stealth aircraft in general- and to a greater extent, stealth bombers in particular- enable flexibility in air operations by providing four different 'gambits' in the opening phase of air combat:

    - The ability to conduct meaningful stealth strikes without air superiority.

    - The ability to use stealth to establish air superiority.

    - The 'traditional' gambit, incorporating use of non-stealthy force countermeasures composed of a variety of air assets [SEAD, EW, combat air patrol, and strike].

    - Permutations and combinations of the first three.


    The ability of stealth bombers to create localized air superiority through neutralization of ground-based assets, communication nodes, hangared aircraft, infrastructure and significantly SEAD and radars renders incalculable advantages to an air force enjoying this technological advantage in terms of establishing eventual total air superiority and minimizing losses for its non-stealthy colleagues.

    Now let me court controversy here and suggest that the reason for the line of thinking which espouses that strategic bombers have become 'obsolete' or are 'approaching obsolescence' is that there has not yet been a quantum leap in terms of doctrinal and policy conceptualization of the advantages of stealth bombers. Thus, while we have the "bomber roadmap", which makes explicit the important conventional role of strategic and long-range bomber aircraft, there does not as yet exist a true doctrinal appreciation- atleast among the defence layman- of the important contribution of stealth bombers like the B-2 in achieving air-superiority.


    That is certainly a problem. Infact, the B-2 requires specialized climate-controlled hangers to preserve its radar-absorbent material and coatings. Then again, the higher ordnance and significantly greater operational range compensate for the low sortie rate. One reason for the comparatively lower maintenance costs of the F-22 for example, is that it uses far fewer radar absorbent materials than the B-2 or the F-117 Nighthawk. And maintenance time and costs for the latter are continuously being reduced through developments such as these:

    Stealth technology; B-2 maintenance time cut by spray-on coating. (27-APR-04) Flight International

    Manufacturing Technology Program Reduces Maintenance Time for the B-2 Bomber Fleet

    USA’s B-2 Bombers Leading the Way in Contracting for Availability


    That!


    The air-to-air role is reserved for combat and multi-role aircraft only. If that were the purview of the bomber, it would no longer be that- a "bomber". The "cost effectiveness" is debatable, and depends primarily on the mission type.


    That is, I have to say, a somewhat implausible scenario. AAA batteries do not simply "fill the skies with shrapnel" without untold consequences to themselves (the host country). And saturation coverage by enemy fighters patrolling the skies is somewhat inconceivable- particularly since the only nations with inventories large enough to approximate that feat also have the distinction of having very large airspaces. Realistically, gaps through which enemy air coverage can be penetrated always exist, and the astute ACC can, alongwith the aid of excellent intelligence, EW systems, by minimizing radial speed and presenting minimal RCS aspects of the stealth aircraft to enemy radar, predict a relatively secure flight path.


    That is an extremely small window of opportunity. And the B-2's weapons' bay discharge vulnerability is addressed by operating in a manner that reduces the risk and consequences of temporary acquisition. In addition, the B-2's operational altitude (50,000 ft.) imposes a flight time for defensive weapons that makes it virtually impossible to engage the aircraft during its weapons deployment.


    The problem encountered with that then ofcourse is the issue of maneuverability. While a cruise missile is "maneuverable" in its own right, equating the maneuverability of a cruise missile and a bomber aircraft is fallacious. The former is designed to evade a stationery object within a restricted flight envelope and predetermined trajectory in X-Y plane; the latter to cope with a far greater degree of hostile target maneuverability in addition to being able to maneuver in three-dimensional, omnidirectional plane with theoretically far more intensive terminal phase correction during engagement. The two are different vectors, representing distinct modes of delivery for different congeries of munitions, and each with their own advantages and detriments.

    Edit: Just realized Zmey Smirnoff has expounded upon this point nicely. Please See: http://www.defenceforum.in/forum/df...come-obsolete-modern-warfare-4.html#post16124

    Indeed, another utility.
     
  2. icecoolben

    icecoolben Regular Member

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    The f-117 is a ground attack aircraft not a dedicated bomber. The true dedicated stealth bomber is the b-2 spirit. The f-117 is out of service now as well.
     
  3. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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    With improvement in Electronic Warfare, bomber would spring back in action.
     
  4. redpearl75

    redpearl75 New Member

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    No....

    We can not completely denie the fact that Bombers play a major role in any air force as its responsible for crippling the defence of the enemy forces.... Even if we have long range weapons, fighters, and subs, we will always need to have bombers in stock to attack strategic targets accurately..... Indian navy still operates Tupolev 22 as a bomber and Jaguars in Air force.... we dont have a dedicated bomber apart from the TU 22 and i believe we need those to have a greater impact on the enemies.....

    And its true a bomber will alaways need protection against the opponet forces, and it pulls fighters and tankers with it... but to be honest India doesn't need bombers urgently as its missile capabilities are more than enough to make the needed impact... Still its always good to have more...
     
  5. AJSINGH

    AJSINGH Senior Member Senior Member

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    dedicated bombers are still needed...because after the enemy combat aircraft is finished ..we need bomber to destroy the sam sities as well defence radar plus also to destroy the airfields not to forget close air support to the army on the ground
    if we see in the operation iraqi freedom ...squad of 15 to 20 F-15c would carry " dumb bomb" ...and destroy the radar and sam sities ( although if iraq had sa21 it would have shot any american aircraft out of the sky ) ...and the squad of 10 to 15 F-15 also had electronic warfare aircraft in the lead .....that aircraft would jam all the iraq radar and hence make their sam useless ....therefore for bombing mission we need dedicated bomber maybe not B-2 like bomber but more like Tu160
     
  6. icecoolben

    icecoolben Regular Member

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    Tu-22 m of indian navy - not a dedicated bomber

    till its always good to have more...[/QUOTE]
    the tu-22m we leased from russia are not dedicated bombers. They were leased for maritime reconnaissance.
     
  7. shankarosky

    shankarosky Regular Member

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    bomber s can never become obsolete- best example is 2 billion a piece B-2 closely followed by b-1 ,Tu-95/22/160 all of which have seen combat in recent times -only the way they are employed has changed in a more developed air defense environment
     
  8. shankarosky

    shankarosky Regular Member

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    esssentially a bomber will be required as long as you need a cheap way to deliver lot of cheap bombs to kill lot of cheap people any where in the world -so we still have B-52 along with B-2
     
  9. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

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    the tu-22m we leased from russia are not dedicated bombers. They were leased for maritime reconnaissance.[/QUOTE]

    Tu-22m can also attack sea targets, can even be modified into real bombers when required.
    so only the Oz protested against the Indians buying the Tu-22,
    actually they were leased for a minimum time when both Tu-142m and IL-36 were left for Upgrades.
     
  10. shankarosky

    shankarosky Regular Member

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    Tupolev 22 M3 are in fact out and out long range bombers in service with russian air force some of which are modified for maritime strike role .Before the advent of Tu 160 black jackes thet were the promary defense against USN carrier groups and always carried a couple of nuclear tipped long range cruise missiles for that .They have been used in traditional bomber role in recent Georgia-Russia clash and widely used in Chechnya
     
  11. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    I still think that we can have a use for a long-range bomber wing with 6-8 aircraft like the TU22M that can be based at a far-away location like the airbase in Andaman & Nicobar islands,TU22M with 7000 km range and with stand-off nuclear ALCMs can be used to achieve deep strikes inside Pakistan and even China without entering hostile airspace.
     
  12. AJSINGH

    AJSINGH Senior Member Senior Member

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    just 1 squadron of Tu 160 will do the job
     
  13. tarunraju

    tarunraju Sanathan Pepe Moderator

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    Air bombing is a very wide term. MRCAs maybe good at delivering a limited load of bombs, but will never be able to perform carpet-bombing (releasing a massive load a gravity bombs). Also, MRCAs won't be able to carry heavy thermobaric (non-nuclear) vacuum bombs, since they're variably heavy. Bombers are essential, and in today's setting need to be super-sonic. India must eye some Tu-160 BlackJacks.

    [​IMG]

    Isn't that pretty? And it's as recently introduced as in 2005.
     
  14. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    One squadron means 16-18 aircraft, I am talking about just 6-8. over that a TU-160 cost nearly 200 million USD, whereas a TU-22M cost around 70-75 million USD. We don't need such aircraft, whose primarily use is transcontinental bombing,over that we don't have long range nuclear ALCMs as of now, which is main weapon for a TU-160/ B-1 Lancer type aircraft.TU-160 range is 10500 km, whereas that of TU-22M is 7000 km which is more than enough for our strategic needs.

    And it's as recently introduced as in 2005.

    It was introduced in 1987, then production was stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union and then again restarted in 2000, with the first aircraft being delivered in 2005.
     
  15. AJSINGH

    AJSINGH Senior Member Senior Member

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    yeh maybe you are right but who knows IAF may want to but T-160 because of better performance and higher payload
     
  16. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    AJ, i believe it will be a waste of money. TU22M max takeoff weight is 126 tonnes ! that's a pretty heavy load carrying capacity.performance is pretty good for an aircraft of its size plus it carries a 23 mm turret
     
  17. AJSINGH

    AJSINGH Senior Member Senior Member

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    good point , then again the mosre improtant question is that does IAF really need bomber when ICBM ,and cruise missile can do the same job with less resources
     
  18. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    AJ, ICBMs are not used for conventional bombing and they are not manouverable, cruise missiles are manouverable to an extent but nothing compared to a manned aircraft ... and they are expensive.... they are only used in high risk situations mostly in unconventional wars, like taking out a terrorist base or weapons dump etc. a bomber is useful as it can carry a huge load of high explosive ordinance for long ranges that can even destroy a whole city with conventional munitions, destroy multiple sam sites/ radar sites, army barracks, ammunition depots, warehouses, airfields within a single mission. On the contrary, cruise missiles don't carry very high explosive firepower and also you will require firing multiple missiles to take out one large target. Check out the previous posts regarding this issue. You can't compare 400-500 kg cruise missile warhead to 100000 tonnes of firepower !
     
  19. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    A conventionally armed Agni 3's max. payload is 2500 kg, compare that with a TU22M bomber's payload of 110-120 tonnes. Do you think a conventional 2500 kg warhead can destroy a city ? even if it does, a TU22M can carry at least 40 such warheads. 40 Agni 3 missiles will cost 320 million USD at 8 million USD/missile, whereas a TU22M aircraft costs 70-75 million USD.
     
  20. AJSINGH

    AJSINGH Senior Member Senior Member

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    ^^i agree with you sandeepdg,however there is very less probablity that we will have to fight war in which we have to destroy entire cities,as we can ,future wars will be proxy wars ( limited to a region like kargil conflcit )
     

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