Northrop Grumman Teased Us With Its New Stealth Bomber
Expert aerospace trolling
Look closely at Northrop Grumman’s latest TV commercial, because it appears to include just a hint of the company’s top-secret new stealth bomber.
“At Northrop Grumman, we’ve always been at the forefront of innovation,” a deep voice intones as seven decades worth of the company’s warplanes zoom across the screen. A YB-49 bomber prototype. An F-14 fighter. A B-2 stealth bomber. An X-47B attack drone demonstrator.
And at the end of the 30-second spot, an unseen warplane casts an indistinct shadow on shifting clouds. “And when the world asked for the future … ” the narrator proclaims, trailing off without identifying the mystery craft.
For good reason. Because at the moment, the major program Northrop is pursuing is also one of the most secretive in the world—the U.S. Air Force’s $50-billion effort to produce up to 100 new stealth bombers to begin replacing today’s B-52s, B-1s and B-2s.
The flying branch plans to pick, sometime in the next couple months, a contractor to develop the new Long Range Strike Bomber. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have teamed up to offer a joint design. But Northrop, with its recent experience building the B-2 and the reams of useful data it’s gleaned from the X-47B, seems poised to win.
Indeed, there are indications that Northrop has already built a flying prototype of the new bomber. The company even patented some basic blueprints back in 2009 that might indicate the warplane’s rough outline.
But Northrop can’t just come out and show us the design in any detail—not until the Air Force finally decides who’s going to build the thing and gives the contractor permission to make it public.
So instead the commercial teases us with this flitting shadow. But if you squint and tilt your head, it’s possible to see in the shadow the same basic elements that appear in some of the 2009 patents. A cranked flying-wing shape. Possible nose canards.
Just enough to get us aviation nerds excited. Well done, Northrop. Well done.
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