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Message posted by Skeet (Member since 06/29/2022) on August 18, 2022 at 13:41:23 PST:

While researching the B2 development and ATB competition, I found a very interesting image of this low-altitude concept from Northrop.

The source of this image is the B-2 Systems Engineering Case Study. The image is in APPENDIX 4: ASPA RISK REDUCTION BRIEFING, 1979, page 81. https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a464771.pdf

The concept has remarkable similarities to the rumored "Aurora" aircraft.

Could the 1989 North Sea delta shaped aircraft sighting in fact be this low-alt stealth bomber? The aircraft was seen refuelling from a KC-135 in formation with a pair of F-111s why would a hypersonic spy-plane be flying with bombers? A low-alt stealth bomber would have a similar role as the F-111, low-level terrain-following bombing missions, so perhaps they were training together?

The low-alt design had to carry more fuel so it required a longer take-off roll (7,800ft vs 1,500ft for the high-alt design, page 82-83). It also had a shorter range so it would ideally need to be based to closer to the USSR, much like many of the USAF bombers based in the UK during the Cold War. This fits with the rumors that RAF/USAF Machrihanish, with its 2-mile long runway, hosted such an aircraft.

Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Any thoughts?


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