Military


FB-22 Fighter Bomber

The FB-22 is a concept on the shelf for future consideration. It will actually cost some money to develop the FB-22 and right now it's a concept. It's a concept that helps stretch minds. Air Force Secretary James G. Roche is the father of this concept and he has a model of this concept on his desk. It looks very much like an F-22. It takes advantage of all of the development work that has been done on the F/A-22. It is two seats. It is a bit larger. It retains all of its super cruise characteristics. It is not quite as high G as the F/A-22 but it is still a maneuverable airplane. And where the F/A-22 will carry eight small diameter bombs internally, the FB-22 would carry 30 small diameter bombs internally with a range approximately two and a half times that of the F/A-22.

In early 2002 Lockheed Martin began briefing the Air Force on a modified bomber version of the F-22 Raptor fighter, featuring a delta wing, longer body and greater range and payload. This company-funded study of the FB-22, conducted during 2002, was an internally generated, internally funded proprietary study into the feasibility of making a derivative of the F-22. The FB-22 medium bomber is based on existing and planned capabilities of the Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter, a heritage that would limit development costs should the idea go into production. The medium bomber version of the F-22 would provide a relatively low cost and low risk approach for development of a high speed strike aircraft to carry a sufficient load to attack mobile targets.

In a series or articles by Bill Sweetman for "Jane's Defense Weekly" and "Popular Science," the FB-22 s described as a tailless delta variant of the F-22. Yaw control would be provided by split flaps, or "decelerons" on the wings, while roll would be controlled by movable wingtips.

In a bomber version, the fuselage would be longer and the wings far larger to give the bomber greater range - more than 1,600 miles, compared with the F-22's 600-plus - and bomb-carrying capacity. The FB-22 would replace the Air Force's F-15E and take over some missions for long-range bombers such as the B-2 and B-1. The initial design envisioned a plane that could carry 24 Small Diameter Bombs, which weigh only 250 pounds. Using Global Positioning System guidance, the small bomb would be as lethal as a 2,000-pound bomb. A regular F/A-22 would carry eight Small Diameter Bombs. An FB-22 would carry 30.

The biggest difference between the F-22 and the FB-22 is the wing, which would be very close to a delta wing. It is not exactly a delta, but a much bigger wing, which would increase the amount of space that could carry bombs. The longer, thicker delta wing would enable the FB-22 to carry up to 80 percent more fuel than the F-22, giving it a correspondingly greater range.

To produce an FB-22, the basic F-22 would need airframe modifications for a larger weapons payload and greater fuel capacity, bringing the maximum takeoff weight to over 42 tons. The FB-22's fuselage would need to be about 10 feet longer than that of the F-22 to make room for a larger weapons bay. The FB-22 might dispense with the F-22's twin horizontal stabilizers and vertical tails. If so, the the plane's overall length wouldn't be much different from the F-22's. Like the B-2, the FB-22 would carry two pilots, since missions could last more than 12 hours.

Rather than using the F-22's Pratt & Whitney F119 engines, the FB-22 is likely to have either the new F135, which was developed from the F119 to power the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, or the rival General Electric F136. In either event, the FB-22 would have greater speed than the B-1B, the fastest US bomber.

Because of the work already done on the F-22, developing the FB-22 might cost about $5 billion to $7 billion - a fraction of the price for starting a bomber from scratch. FB-22 flights could begin by 2013. Starting a second final assembly line for the FB-22 at Boeing is under consideration, since Boeing makes the F-22's wings.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list