Bomber aircrafts initially saw action during World War I and underwent significant evolution during World War II. Today’s bombers are highly evolved Force projection platforms that portrays the nation’s military might.
Based on the type of engine used, bomber aircrafts can be classified as Turboprop engine and Turbofan Jet bombers. Based on the role they can be classified as long rage strategic bombers that are capable of carrying thermonuclear payloads. There are also strategic stealth bombers which have the capability to carryout covert bombing missions. Recent developments have also been encouraging for concepts such as large UAVs that can carry out strategic bombing missions and even nuclear missions. Strategic stealth bombers are seen as an alternative to conventional strategic bombers since significant advances have been made in air defense capabilities. Hence keeping in mind the advanced air defense capabilities, even tactical bombers are expected, to some degree of stealth capability to achieve crew survivability and mission success.
Increasing emphasis on stealth capability is also pushing engine and fuselage design to the limits. Engine manufacturers have to strike perfect balance between developing adequate thrust and exhaust temperature control to ensure low observability of the aircraft. Supersonic capabilities of the aircraft is sacrificed in favor of stealth capability. Aircraft manufacturers are also concentrating on special paint coating that absorbs radar and decreases the radar cross section of the aircraft. Aircrafts are also manufactured in such a way that it deflects most of the electromagnetic waves thus ensuring stealth capability.
Tactical bombers typically have shorter range and they are aimed at defusing enemy operations. They provide air cover to ground forces. Tactical bombers often fly closer to the ground to avoid radar detection. To ensure crew survivability, tactical bombers are designed to survive hits from anti-aircraft artillery and have additional armor protection for the crew.
The market is expected to be driven by procurement of new tactical and long range strategic bombers. National next generation bomber programs are also a key factor that will aid the market growth. The B21 strategic long range stealth bomber programs is seeing progress as the test aircraft is already being built. B21 is being built with an open architecture hardware and software system to enable easier upgradation and quickly achieve full operational capability. US Air force has also confirmed that the B-52 bombers will stay in service till 2050. B-52 bombers are now capable of using the AGM-86B air launched cruise missile and in near future expected to carry AGM 181 missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warhead. B-1 and B-2 bombers are expected to be in service till B-21 arrives.
Russia has upgraded its TU 160M blackjack fleet and restarted production as a stop gap measure for the delay in PAK – Da bomber programs. Apart from the TU 160M, TU 95 and TU -2sM are the only other long-range bomber aircrafts in service.
Chinese drone manufacturer Zhongtian Feilong Intelligent Technology (ZFIT) has also claims to have created an unmanned bomber named Feilong-2 that could rival the American B-21 bomber. Unmanned bombers are not considered to be credible replacement to manned bombers since a hand human supervision is needed at all times during mission and unmanned systems are susceptible to enemy hacking.
The inhibitors in the market is rapid evolution of air defense systems that are becoming more lethal every day and advancements in long range cruise missiles and development of hypersonic missiles that can hit strategic targets with high precision.