Air Force FB-22 Bomber Concept
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The Air Force has expressed interest in developing a bomber variant of the FA-22 Raptor to bridge the gap between todays bombers and a follow-on bomber in 2037. Questions exist regarding the FB-22s feasibility, cost, and combat potential. In 2002 it was reported that Lockheed Martin Corp. had begun studying a radically modified version of the Raptor called the FB-22 . This variant would seek to significantly increase the FA-22s air-to-ground capabilities, primarily through a redesign that would double the aircrafts range and significantly increase the aircrafts internal payload. Some estimate that the delta-winged FB-22 could carry up to 30 of the developmental 250-lb. Small Diameter Bombs. These potential improvements would likely result in some performance tradeoffs, such as reduced acceleration, speed, and maneuverability. Although not officially part of the FA-22 program, and still in the conceptual phase, the FB-22 idea has elicited enthusiasm from some Air Force leaders. Air Force Secretary James Roche reportedly favors the FB-22 as the potential platform of choice for providing better close air support for tomorrows ground forces. Air Force leaders have also depicted the FB-22 as a medium-range bomber that could serve as a bridge between the current bomber force and a follow-on capability to be fielded in the 2037 time-frame. On April 29, 2004, the Air Force issued to industry a request for information on resources and technologies that might contribute to a regional, or interim bomber. Other officials have reportedly shown less interest in the FB-22. Air Force acquisition chief Marvin Sambur said that the FA-22s developmental difficulties would have to be solved before the FB-22 could be considered. Potential costs and schedule of the FB-22 concept are still quite notional. How this multi-role aircraft would compete with -- or conversely complement -- the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has not yet been determined.
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