Just look at the notice: "The deliverables will include all technical data related to the heat exchanger disassembly, all technical data related to the cores, all technical data related to the stack up, vacuum brazing, and installation of the cores on existing units. The deliverables will also include all technical data related to the tooling needed..." It's clear they don't have the technical data.
Here's how this can happen: the government asks for proposals, and the prospective contractors say "we'll create it for you for cheaper if you don't require the technical data & its related rights". The government program manager (PM) is under a lot of pressure to "get it cheaper", and this is cheaper in the short term, so the government PM agrees. The PM will be around for a few years, then leave. Later on, the contractor is the only one who can make the parts (because they're the only ones with the technical data & the technical data rights to do it). The government procurement system is all about competition, but now there is no possibility for real competition. Thus, the parts will cost 10x or more, and the government PM who approved this is long gone (probably with a promotion), and the contractor is happy with incredibly large profit margins.
I don't know if that's what happened in this case. But it's very very possible.
“In my view, shared by many blue-suiters, this marvelous airplane should still be operational but, alas, that was not to be. One of the most depressing moments in the history of the Skunk Works occurred on February 5, 1970, when we received a telegram from the Pentagon ordering us to destroy all the tooling for the Blackbird. All the molds, jigs, and forty thousand detail tools were cut up for scrap and sold off at seven cents a pound. Not only didn’t the government want to pay storage costs on the tooling, but it wanted to ensure that the Blackbird never would be built again. I thought at the time that this cost-cutting decision would be deeply regretted over the years by those responsible for the national security. That decision stopped production on the whole series of Mach 3 aircraft for the remainder of this century. It was just plain dumb.”
Ben R Rich and Leo Janos. “Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed”.
I felt something similar walking through Weird Stuff Warehouse and seeing old SGI workstations that I used to covet sitting on shelves for a pittance. Even if you bought them, you probably didn't have a 13w3 monitor or software to get them up. and now weird stuff is gone itself.
It's that "it's gone and can't come back" feeling.
When we look backwards in time, we see lots of tributaries that dried up for various reasons. That SGI workstation is still in your head, it is really up to us to copy and extend those concepts forwards in time.
That software is still sitting on a box of junk in someones basement somewhere, it just has to be found.
That was an innovative plane and the reality is that nobody is going to wake up and build it again once production stops. Once you break up a team, the team is gone — that’s why we always build submarines, even if unnecessary. You have to keep the people and plant working.
That tooling was going to be compromised and useful to the Soviets or some other adversary. There is a well established record of traitors selling plans or materials to the KGB/FSB/Chinese intelligence that have been caught. Also, from a PR perspective, a headline like “Air Force spends $50M/year to guard stealth bomber tooling untouched in 30 years” isn’t great either.
First, the B-2 was the first large, complex product in history to be entirely developed digitally. Everything. was in CAD, and only the CAD geometry was authoritative. All drawings printed out were VERY clearly marked warning of this. IIRC, most of this was in Catia, so it should still be possible to read and use that data.
Second, if there's one thing Defense procurement Is good at, it's configuration management. This is doubly true of black programs like the B2, where not only do you want to make sure you never lose data or docs, but also that no bad guys ever have a way to get that data.
Either something went badly off the rails somewhere, or someone needs to rebuild something without the proper clearance. Otherwise, this makes no sense. BTW, the combo of the first complex CAD-only product multiplied by the hideous costs of any black program were largely responsible for the B-2's exorbitant costs.
Congress was stupid to cut B-2 production numbers, though, because the lion's share was fixed, sunk cost that remained the same regardless of whether one or a hundred airplanes were actually built.
(I think I've posted here before about how we spent many millions of dollars to develop a method to repair a major composite part in place. That part was pretty much what you started with when you put the airplane together, so even that was way cheaper than disassembling and reassembling the entire airplane!)
I mean if instead of discussing a topic freely on HN you were supposed to share your information using some I-1969 standard form with sections of one word answers, how many compelling and sensible posts would we usually see.
Many people are reasonable shrewd with their own money, and about stuff that directly impacts them. But people in charge of government organisations often have very different incentives and concerns.
(Other big organisations in the private sector can also go haywire. Especially when the threat from competition is low.)
That being said, it destroyed a large part of the Canadian aeronautical industry since Avro ceased operations soon after and the well trained workforce was scattered to the States. There's a long history of Canadian governments doing shortsighted things like killing industries and then paying out of the nose to try to restart the industry every generation/ See shipbuilding in Canada and how Canada can't build ships for its own navy now, despite being one of the largest shipbuilders in the world in the early 20th century.
I agree though, the government has been short sighted and procurement of ships, planes has been a debacle for years. It seems that either way a lot of money is going to be burnt, either by propping up a non-competitive industry locally, or burnt buying something insanely expensive like F-35s from an ally.
I think this is why people like to refer to the Communinist Party of China (CPC ) as the CCP, because it evokes memories of the Soviet Union.
And let me guess, the 'pressure' comes from government decision makers that live in a perpetual revolving door with industry?
No, I think the pressure primarily comes from the DoD procurement process itself. First, you have to develop the requirements. The Air Force wants a plane, the Navy wants a plane, the Army wants a plane. If you say "yes" to one & "no" the others you get a political battle. A bright person says, "I know, we'll make a plane for everyone, and the volume purchase will make it cheaper!" "Great!" everyone says. They each bring in their laundry lists of what they want the plane to do... if you say "no", then they probably won't fund it, so you have this HUGE list of requirements. Now the plane (or whatever) has to do everything.
Then it goes out for bid. Only the lowest bid will win, so contractors will do their best to make it a low price for a massive number of requirements. They're under great pressure to underbid the real costs, and when you do new things it's usually more expensive than you imagine. Yet those costs will still look eye-wateringly big (because it's trying to do everything). Contractors will then say "don't require that 'bunch of useless technical data and those technical data rights... it'll be cheaper!". In addition, every time you learn something, you'll need to make a change, and that will result in a change request with a remarkably high price tag. That's partly because the contractors are motivated by profit, but to be fair, they were often pressured into unrealistically low starting costs by the process.
Many of the DoD's problems aren't from "evil government officials" or "evil contractors". Many really are trying to do good things. Sometimes the problem is that the DoD procurement process has some perverse incentives that sometimes results in very strange outcomes.
"The Best of the Journal of Irreproducible Results" (January 1, 1983) includes an article by William R. (Randy) Simpson about Murphy's Law, where he notes in a haha-only-serious way the many predictable problems that happen because of it. It's not online as far as I can tell, but the book can be purchased: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Journal-Irreproducible-Results/d...
I'll answer my own rhetorical question: because budget forecast time periods are aligned with election cycles.
I don't think that policy (as written) would make sense for commercially-sold components (which were developed by the company without government funds and are being sold to the general public). Also, I think there are special cases where requiring the technical data isn't warranted. But I agree that policies could be greatly improved.
I think it would be appropriate to require technical data and technical data rights for all custom components by default (e.g., where the government funded part or a majority of its development). Waivers would be allowed, but only after being personally approved by a Secretary or Department CIO. That would provide some actual oversight; if program managers can approve making themselves look good, by lowering short-term costs (while increasing long-term costs after those PMs are gone), the rule will have no teeth. But government personnel want maximum flexibility, and while the current policies increase long-term costs, the policies also make it possible to get promoted when people are asked to do lots with relatively little money. So many government personnel are not very interested in that kind of policy.
A bigger problem is that contractors like it when their customer is stuck in an endless monopoly. Some contractors have been waging a long term effort to keep the gravy train going, and talk endlessly about the DoD "stealing our (contractor) data rights". The "stealing" they're talking about is allowing the DoD to receive the data that the DoD paid to have developed (!). Many contractors think they should have an exclusive right to the things they created using the government's money (and thus took little risk to create). For an example of this kind of absurd thinking, see: https://govcon.mofo.com/cybersecurity-and-data-privacy/break... Don't get me wrong, some contractors are actually quite reasonable, and the DoD cannot be successful without contractors. But contractors have a lot of incentive to gain exclusive rights over what they were paid to develop, and that's a huge incentives problem.
At least one past Secretary of Defense has tried to get more data rights through contracts, but it's very much an uphill battle.
There are some efforts to get more technical data rights in the future. I don't know what their status is, but my understanding is that they are minor nudges towards the government getting more rights to what the DoD pays for. These minor changes are considered by some contractors as the apocalypse, which should make it clear why big policy changes are hard. Here's some information on what was proposed, I don't know what has happened to it (I don't pay as much attention to this stuff as I used to):
I think these are at best small half-hearted measures to deal with a serious problem.
The whole point of hiring a contractor to sell a product is that the contractor is that it brings its own intellectual property to the table and “owns” the project.
Work performed as work for hire for the US government is public domain (subject to security restrictions). For some military products, the government “owns” the product. For example, artillery/naval gun tubes are manufactured by the Federally owned Watervliet Arsenal in New York, operated by a contractor.
The government owns other facilities relating to nuclear and chemical weapons that I’m aware of, and I’m not sure there is a material difference in competence related to the government “owning” all information.
If the data was classified (very likely) it costs a lot more to store it and audit it, and the pressure to "just burn it" is that much greater.
A few years ago I wanted to renovate an apartment. I dutifully applied for the plans from the local council. Only to be told they no longer existed.
I had this, "Well then, it was always like that" moment.
Didn't end up knocking out the wall, for other reasons, but if the plans no longer existed who was to argue that it wasn't always like that.
Nice tid bit for the B-52. These old birds, old in the sense of designed pre CAD, are quite hard to understand for modern manufacturing. Even manufacturers rely on retires sometimes to understand these old drawings for their own planes. Then again, the B-2 shouldn't fall in that category.
I suspect that people in the armed forces, at least some, understand maintenance but have no idea of manufacturing. A couple of years ago I had spontaneous "workshop" session where we discussed how we could leverage BoMs and data collected during production and assembly from the manufacturer for version and build tracking of military hardware. I used to work for that manufacturer in question, so I knew what data they collected during production. The only we would have had to figure out was which BoM to use. That was immediately shot down by middle management, because it would cost 10s of millions to get the rights for that data. Nevermind that it was there from day one, even in SAP so our client wouldn't even had issues with compatibility.
And none of the people I had these discussions with had any idea how BoMs and such are used. In these environments it is quite easy for crucial knowledge, especially of highly specialised parts and processes, to be lost.
As a CIM Manager for a major B-2 subcontractor, I can assure you they knew what they were doing. Yes, even 30-35 years ago. Yes, they knew as much or more then than we know today about BOMs, manufacturing, CAD, digital records and archiving, documentation and configuration management, and everything else. (BOMs weren't in SAP, but they were in mainframe DBs, ERP systems, and CAD systems, some of which are still sold and used today.) I have literally never worked on any other program in my entire career that was as well-run and orchestrated overall as the B-2 program. (We called it ADP-101 at the time, and for the first few years, we didn't even know what we were working on!)
So, the tinfoil hat interpretation of this story would be, of course the Pentagon has the original blueprints in quintuplicate, but it's identified reverse engineering as a key strategic advantage China has over the US (pretty reasonable so far, right?) and has announced this as a way to shuffle some money into building up domestic RE expertise in the defence industry.
The idea that it was made by some long defunct subcontractor and nobody knows what happened to their blueprints and production notes is far more likely. Also, even if you had the blueprints you still need to be able to make the tooling, which is at least half of this project.
That said, if some contractor does come through with this and does a good job (on time, on budget, parts work, etc...) they could likely find plenty of other programs with similar needs. In some cases the original contractor does still exist, but they're asking way too much money to reconstitute an old production line so a scrappy startup like this could prove themselves valuable.
Anyway the process as such did not work as documented.
You had to add strings to the inside of the mold to get it to set correctly.
This was not written down anywhere.
Part of it may have been job protection. The union was bad about that. New hires would not be able to complete the work.
Always stuck with me that at some point the ability to make that part would be los-tech.
Or, maybe I'm reading bad practices in my industry to everywhere else.
It is totally possible that the line workers have no idea what the documentation on the tooling says.
As yes, plenty of fixes for things are not written down anywhere.
Have others come in and follow the directions.
Every time i am dealing in new hires, i realise how much we just take for granted
He asked how long the job would take, and we answered about a week for all the common stuff. And his answer was, "That is a week you will not be making the company any money.".
We tried to explain the long term savings, but he was not interested.
Many scientific studies cannot be replicated either due to errors or ambiguous steps.
You only have what you test. If you want working documentation, you have to do a blind test. That can be pretty dang expensive, and most people don't think that way. Running production is heavily motivated to just keep running, and not worry too much about all of the potential problems - there are just too many potential problems.
The technician refused to document the procedure because he was afraid of becoming replaceable. He was afraid of becoming replaceable because he was afraid of losing his job. He was afraid of losing his job because he would lose his sole source of income.
Let's just give people free money already.
Management gets exactly the behaviours from employees that it rewards and incentivises.
The air force is currently going on an in-housing and "agile all the things" binge because they're sick of 30yr of getting screwed by contractors.
My money is on Northrop giving them a sky high but not without precedent price and someone saying "screw it, this is the perfect thing to learn how to do"
It’s a bit terrifying when you realize that the people at the top don’t know what they are doing either. Much of the world runs on guesswork and inertia. This is also true of most companies.
In my early 20's this 'discovery' shocked me
Not saying this is how it actually ends up, but they certainly are prepared to use a lot of leverage tools that are not available to more free countries.
People are just people. Organizational psychology is universal. Bit rot is inevitable.
No, but we'll totally sponsor/fund research into things like mind control and astral projection. Funding something totally useful like reverse engineering skills is totally anathema. Just really sad commentary
I don't get your point. The government does invest in reverse engineering, and much more than they invest into mind control and astral projection. It's nonsense to say that investing in useful skills is "totally anathema".
What GP was saying was not that they don't invest in reverse engineering, but they wouldn't try to backdoor it or secret the experience into the industry with some project like this. They wouldn't try to "trick" the industry into developing the experience by putting out smaller contracts like this. They do invest in it, but directly. That one program office has put out a contract for reverse engineering of one system does not mean that the general capability is ignored, within the government or the industry.
And, possibly, before the 1960s.
Small departments in poor cities occasionally wind up highly competent because they wind up staffed with a high enough ratio of workers to get things done and everybody above them has bigger problems than micro managing so they have the freedom to get things done. And it runs for awhile then comes under scrutiny and gets made back into junk because politics.
I agree. And there's a massive depth unwinding to that.
0 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOGBANK
The really interesting thing about that is one of the main things they had to reverse-engineer was an impurity in one of the ingredients that the original designers didn't even know they were depending on.
This was true of lots of things outside NASA. This was one of the problems that killed the UK attempt to modernise the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft . They wanted to fit new wings to the old planes, but only discovered after the contract had been signed that the different airframes had not been built identically, but were different interpretations of a common plan. Each of the nine planes was in effect a completely new refit challenge.
Interchangeable parts don’t.
Additionally the F-1 engines were redesigned using more modern techniques around 2012 with the F-1B .
The SLS went with the RS-25s for a number of reasons. While the F-1s provide high thrust they're not as efficient. The RS-25s can burn longer and with the SRBs providing massive amounts of thrust to get the stack off the ground the RS-25s can provide more delta-v to the upper stages. An F-1 reboot would have required a lot of extra work to add in modern computer controls which already exist in the RS-25. They have also flown in the past few decades and are well understood.
In fact most 'stories' and 'news' is like that. The SLS is known to be in a congress sub committee hot potato game. So that there are different versions floating around of what happened and is happening is not surprising. Teasing out the 'truth' of what happened is not always easy. As many have interests in distorting it, or just remember wrong.
The whole "we can't make them anymore" meme has a tiny kernel of truth but it's been blown way out of proportion the more it's been repeated.
When the F-1 was manufactured a lot of the actual assembly of parts was done by hand. That meant Rocketdyne's engineers and machinists had a lot of tribal knowledge that was lightly or partially documented at best or not documented at worst. NASA and Rocketdyne maintained all of the designs and documentation and knew everyone involved in the engine manufacturing.
In the early 90s a lot of these Rocketdyne people were interviewed  and asked to review F-1 manufacturing techniques as part of the Space Exploration Initiative . Restarting production of the F-1 would have been practical but more expensive than the alternate plan to go with an SSME derivative.
While the F-1 is an impressive engine it has downsides. It's enormous and heavy. The Saturn V's first stage (S-1C) was 10m in diameter while the Space Shuttle's external tank was 8.4m in diameter. The Shuttle's ET was going to be the core of the proposed SEI rocket (and SLS). With a 8.4m tank diameter it would be more difficult to mount more than two F-1s.
With only two engines it would be more dangerous of a vehicle for manned missions as a flame out in one engine could be disastrous. It would also make it more difficult to throttle the engines for different launch profiles. Moving to a larger core would have required all new manufacturing infrastructure, flight qualification, and unknown follow-on issues.
Tl;dr The F-1 was an awesome engine but not perfect or even desirable for all purposes and the "we can't build them" meme is stupid.
Basically, someone created a F1 engine inspired design with modern manufacturing technology but ultimately it was never used.
Also it is no longer known how to make the Saturn V rocket which flew to the moon - https://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/26/science/hunt-is-on-for-sc...
I also recall that Lockheed had to take special effort to preserve production know-how and tooling for the F-22 when they shutdown production early, so it would be possible to restart if needed. You can't capture everything you need to know in blueprints and documentation.
The AF finally hired a bunch of old WW2 airplane mechanics. Those mechanics never looked at the manual, they just listened to the engine, made few adjustments, and the engines were soon singing at full power.
The difference in technology likely plays a large role - these parts were designed without CAD and modern fabrication protocols have changed.
It reminded me of NASA's endeavor to reverse engineer the Saturn rockets
Actually, the B-2 was one of the first military aircraft designed with CAD.
(search for "NCAD")
For example, the Saudi's really don't need all those M-1s they buy from us (with money we give them), but we offer the it keeps our production lines open and active.
It's a devious way of laundering military readiness expenses.
Which I thought he was joking at the time.
Similar: See Dilbert, the cartoon version had a funny episode about company names through acquisitions.
I have no reason to believe that defense projects are not plagued by bureaucracy, office politics and incompetence like in a lot of government entities and large companies. If anything, it is worse because secrecy is a convenient way to hide incompetence. And when information is shared on a "need to know" basis and we realize that no one "needs to know", then it gets lost.
I have touched a bit on defense projects (not in the US) and generally, compared to civilian, open projects, if feels slow and primitive. I didn't get to the super-secret stuff but I have a feeling that the only parts where civilians don't do much better are the ones that only the army is interested in.
> You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?
The budgets they use for secret reverse engineering aren't booked as any kind of reverse engineering.
I suppose they could always call the engineers at Boeing or Lockheed who designed it in the first place. Like getting tech support for your Huawei networking equipment, just use the Cisco guide! 
It's pretty interesting, but a lot of this stuff is structured specifically so that the contractor organization doesn't retain knowledge that it's "not supposed to have", as wasteful as that ends up being. Even stuff like a list of personnel who worked on a project or production line might be included... so that a few years after the project is completed, the management of the contractor might not even be able to figure out who to ask, because they've destroyed even their knowledge of the list of people who worked on the component's design and manufacturing.
I though they already had enough practice reverse engineering the alien tech at Area 51?
Unfortunately, they'd forgotten the manufacturing process, decommissioned the plant that made it, and the people that knew how to do it weren't around any more. They figured it out, but it doesn't necessarily look easy to do (nor does the material seem easy at all to make in the first place).
p20 here says more: https://www.lanl.gov/science/weapons_journal/wj_pubs/17nwj2_...
Edit: I somehow missed this other thread in this story, despite a search: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26334367
Hell, the building in hawthorne where dad worked isn't even owned by northrop anymore. Its spacex.
CAD files (at least planar modeling as opposed to parametric or solid modelling) tend to have pretty straight forward data structures for geometry. Find the point or vertex struct and you're halfway there. The complexity is association and metadata which were nowhere near as bloated then as they are now.
As someone who works regularly for large asset owners, asset life-cycle information (digital and analogue) and the proper management of that information is often ignored because organizations pass that risk to the people working with the asset maintaining their own working knowledge to get their job done. We've had international Building Information Modeling standards since the turn of the century but there's often no business case or standard enterprise process to make leverage technology for asset management.
AI and ML are starting to appear more and more in the operations space, however many pilot projects have to start with digitizing the asset in the first place, which becomes a cost impediment for many getting off the ground.
It really frustrates me as there are great things that can already be done today but the initial step financially usually scares off anyone who has to know 5 years in advance what their operating budget is.
He also has "the laptop"—a mid-1990s Compaq running custom DOS software created by McLaren when the F1 was new. This gray brick was, for many years, required to access the car's engine control and body control modules. Today, McLaren uses a modern Windows computer running a software emulator for day-to-day computer maintenance. Hines keeps the vintage Compaq around just in case.
What are the odds someone said the phrase "those parts? I could mock up copies in a weekend!"
Due to the dispersed mass production in WW2 it's probably not totally true that they wouldn't fly without a custom tooling setup (it'd be a maintenance nightmare if two examples of the same model from different plants diverged dramatically, altho of course it happened) but you can be certain that it's of critical importance.
For mass production, they had to be re-tooled with larger tolerances which also allowed for interchangeable parts.
Do you remember where you read that? Sounds like an interesting bit of history.
The analogy to out-of-date software documentation is very apt. As problems or inefficiencies popped up in the factory, they'd change things and just not write them down (because of deadline pressure, often). If you wanted to build new ones you'd have to either get the factory workers to show you how the thing was actually built, or tear down a working example to reverse engineer it. (Which has been done!)
How things came to be and are, are often at times not documented. Dimension and tolerancing is lost over time too.
- Limited production run. These aren't Ford Mustangs or Toyota Priuses with hundreds of thousands and millions being produced. There were 21 built over 13 years. This also leads to the consequence that each one should be considered a bespoke creation and not a "copy" of the others (even ignoring the 20+ years of individual maintenance work they've each had).
- Time. It's been 21 years since the last one was produced in 2000. Whatever facility produced this has long since lost that capability.
- Aging workforce. Whoever designed it is likely retired, and could even be dead at this point. Certainly the senior engineers who may have been 40+ when the project started in the 70s/80s. Even if they weren't retiring and dying, the people on the project have been doing other things for 20+ years.
This still amazes me, even though every time a call comes in on the landline, the 50-year-old rotary-dial phone in my living room rings alongside the cordless phone. It doesn't get used much, except for the loud ringer and during extended power outages.
The story (which I have no idea if is actually true, but it was widely repeated), was that the engineer who built it in the 60s didn't get paid the full amount that he thought he was owed, so he destroyed the technical manual as a middle-finger to the Air Force.
I, as a contractor, and an employee (who was the one who actually coded the last change!) spent more than a week trying to hunt down any leads to anyone who could know where the source could be found. In the end we gave up, we had no leads at all it turned out. The code was not developed in the same company, and not even those working peripherally with these things were still working in the company.
In the end, the 15 lines of assembly that was supposed to be reverted/removed was done, but the uncertainty of the C-code part of the bootloader and some evidence that the known code was in fact no the latest and greatest, the change was abandoned altogether and a workaround in another part used instead.
I reverted to binary comparisons of machine code, and I also suggested editing the actual machine code to avoid recompiling other parts of the code, but it wasn't a very popular option and I advised against it if there were a possible workaround.
They need to change some plugged up radiators. Good to see that old bombers and old trucks have the same problems.
One of the proposals for future upgrades to SLS (ugh) was liquid-fueled boosters using new-build F-1 engines (i.e. Saturn V main engines). Unfortunately, the specs were not complete; not only was lots of stuff different in the factory than in the drawings, but parts of the engine were literally hand-built. Think API documentation built on a tight deadline, and published while software is still under development.
Luckily, some NASA engineers were already taking one apart and modeling the parts for previous SLS work. The new Dynetics version ended up much simpler and cheaper because of new manufacturing methods, but the reverse engineering process required to get there was a serious project in its own right.
Even though there's definitely a pork aspect, there is also actual value in being able to keep that sort of business continuity and institutional knowledge alive.
Older planes and other hardware have LONG had to be reverse-engineered (including microchips).
Nevertheless, these things may become more common if we are at the apex of our civilization.
I could imagine a RFP in Rome from 300 AD or so soliciting bids to figuring out how the hell to make an aquaduct, amphitheater, or even cement!
Things change, and the factory/tooling/people are long gone. Also, often the underlying tech isn't available. But the part needs to weigh the same amount, meet the same guidelines, and fit in the same hole.
It's cheaper to pay someone to spend the time to figure out how to make the replacement then to mothball the entire airplane—almost regardless of how expensive it might be.
I am curious about what the current role of the B-2 is, as the US doesn't really have much need to bomb anywhere that it doesn't already have complete air superiority (and retaliatory strikes that wouldn't be preceded by pounding the local air force flat are best served by missiles, drones and other things that don't take a crew somewhere they might crash and end up confessing to war crimes on live TV). It was used to deliver a few bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq, but not in a role that couldn't have easily been filled by a B-52. Or a B-17. (I checked. There are currently more than 40 B-17s still flying in the world. That's twice as many as there are B-2s. Hmmmm...)
As an aside, does it still qualify as a dupe if there wasn't any significant discourse?
Generally no. Some submissions just don't take due to poor timing (not lining up with when an interested audience will catch, upvote, and discuss it).
Included is an anecdote about Texas Instruments and loss of knowledge between generations of silicon hardware.
The inquery was told that the plans for the building were lost, and it was the intern's fault that he deleted them off his pc.
Are these both then "their dogs ate their homework" defenses?
Some bureaucrat entity always decides at some moment that paying for storage of an arbitrarily old project tooling is not worth it.
Aren't they spending tens of MIC billions on new bombers soon anyhow?
Why aren't they cannibalizing other airframes and just making do?
Why didn't they have a spares support contract for the entire lifecycle of the airframe?
I also just remembered this is the beginning of the original Stargate movie...
Would seem kind of reminiscent of WWII battleships named after states of each is named "Spirit of a State".
Isn't this just the Air Force not wanting to pay full-price for replacement parts from Northrop Grumman now that the patents have expired?
The introduction of the B-2 in service was ~24 years ago, this is one of the most recent jet in the US air force. By military standard it's definitely young.
There are only 2 planes in service in the US more recent than that, the F-22 and F-35 (not counting transport aircrafts).
Those planes are designed for lifespans of 50-100 years.
The B-2 was started in the 70s and the maiden flight occurred while I was still baking in the womb.
I realize aircraft can live a long time and can be retrofitted and upgraded with modern technology - but all things considered it is old.
Not saying ancient is bad, either, but as far as organizations go, org knowledge, handoffs of info and books and writing etc... I am not surprised to see the need for reverse engineering.
He also said a big problem was the expense of doing a modern engine upgrade. Anyone know if they ever re-engined it? Was he joking again?
Having one of these fly over my apartment on Rock Rd. was a dish rattler--I used to see B-2s every once in a while too (fairly loud too, IIRC).
I guess he was right about the engines.
This isn't unique to public money; SEO, advertising, marketing &c. are all ways to get private people to part with their money.
You see the real issue? Even if they have the blueprints, it will be difficult to even manufacture the parts here.
There's so many more problems like this coming down the pipeline. We've effectively lost (or rather acquiesced) almost all manufacturing skill to other countries. This was a result of the largest corporations taking advantage of labor arbitrage and then flooding their home market out of business.
If we really want to reverse this, we need to do what it takes to bring manufacturing back to the United States. It's a painful reversal of the open-trade policies of the past. Honestly, Trump was right to fight so hard for this, even going so far as to remove us from NAFTA.
I don't have a good strategy for this, but probably some set of minimum manufacturing of everything should happen within our borders, say 10%, and accomplishing that target with a combination of sticks and carrots.
Its some of the little manufacturing the country has left
> Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Alabama, and Harlingen, Texas.
This country is producing more Tik Tok stars than engineers that can sustain civilization.
SpaceX makes working spacecraft.
This country built Saturn 5 rocket, 50 years ago. Landed astronauts on the moon, with moon buggy and golf clubs.
Now we can barely launch basic satellites. How is this progress?
Which country built the components and systems and subsystems that go into manufacturing an electric car?
Which country has lithium, rare earth metal processing capabilities critical in manufacturing all modern electronic systems?
Which country built the components and subsystems in the vaccine manufacturing plants?
Decades ago, US had the education system to move millions of people through manufacturing and engineering pipeline to build all above things.
Now, that US education system does not exist. The manufacturing base does not exist. The engineering pipeline does not exist.
We produce more dropout Tik Tok stars than Professional Engineers that develop critical cooling cores, that can withstand heat and stress thresholds in modern military aircraft, and master welders with 20 years of experience that can weld specialty metal alloys in compact designs.
It’s not just aircraft. Do you know who works on water treatment plants that provide clean drinking water to millions of people in US? These guys will be retiring in few years. Who are going to replace them? Who are going to do the hard and difficult job of maintaining these critical systems?
No amount of rosy thinking is going change the course of decline in this country.
Being unable to manufactures things we did in the past is extremely worrying
This country simply does not have enough skilled engineers to design and produce original parts to requirements. Let alone reverse engineer a worn out part.
B2 is product of its time and the amount of engineering resources that went into design and development simply can not be replicated with current society.
Tik Tok stars make multi millions of dollars, so why would any smart person spend years in school and solve complex problems to build state of art Stealth Plane.
Boeing can’t even produce a simple jet without having it fall out of the sky few times, 737 Max.
The flow of smart folks in the pipeline are dwindling. You may be working with smart folks, but how many are going to retire in few years? Who are going to replace them? Does the current education system produce the number and quality of candidates needed?
This country can not build a new reliable airplane, like it did decades ago.
It’s failed project after project. Ask yourself why this is the case? What has changed in this country? What has changed in the industry. What has changed in society?
It’s not just aircraft. Where are US high speed rail systems, that other countries built 30, 40 years ago?
Where are modern infrastructure?
Who works in water treatment plants, providing clean drinking water for millions of people? What happens when all these guys retire in few years?
Tik Tok is all fun and games, and no one wants to do the hard messy work of treating water for consumption.
The problem with F-35 wasn't scope creep, it was the initial premise which operated under a mistaken belief that getting a single “do everything” airframe to maximize commonality would drive down unit cost, rather than driving it up through the conflicting needs of distinct missions.
Obviously the answer is that it is legal to reverse engineer something if you own it.
That said... I think there's an opportunity here:
EFF and other pro-reverse engineering organizations should sue and demand that the DOD follow the same laws that citizens follow.
If they lose the lawsuit, it be great ammunition (so to speak) for stopping anti-reverse engineering laws.
If they win... bonus!
They'd have to have standing for such a suit and they have none. NG and others involved in the design and manufacturing might have standing, but they're also unlikely to sue. This is not a novel activity for DOD.
Or the contract allows it.