I can see someone making a supersonic business jet, dudes like Branson would buy one, but not a true SST right now. Even if everyone's economy improves, developing an SST will still be hugely expensive.
You are looking at it the wrong way in two ways...
They are building a flying wing supersonic bomber... the money is going to be spent on most of the technology anyway.
A super cruising aircraft does not use much more fuel than a conventional subsonic aircraft because it uses dry thrust too... it just gets there faster... not so important on short trips but for long haul trips... say from anywhere to NZ or Australia then it is important.
The second point is that there will always be a market for expensive travel... there are plenty of rich people who will pay more to get there faster and in a bit of luxury... Concord did plenty of business when it was operating.
For a country the size of Russia it will reduce travel times from one side to the other and make places like Siberia more accessible.
Very simply the plane is already being developed and built... just another area where military demands can be turned to civilian needs... imagine what the world would be like if you took away all the aircraft used by the military... whether they were developed by the military and then used for civilian roles, or vice versa is not important... actually it is... made for the military means most of the costs are eliminated and in a SST that is critical because the costs will be fairly high, so the military absorbing those costs will make it much more viable.
Second an efficient flying wing design that can super cruise should have fairly low drag and good volume for passengers. As a first stage they could make it a subsonic design with civilianised engines that burn less fuel in a subsonic flight regime and are easier to maintain with longer hours etc.
In all reality even though the Tu-144D was freaking awesome, and the Brits and French kept the Concorde going out of pride, the only sensible SST would've been ours in hindsight. 300 passengers might've made it economical once you survived the problems in the 70s.
You are missing the point... a mach 2 SST is not going to be economical... just like a big expensive Rolls Royce Town Car will never be a choice for pulling a plow. Squeesing lots of passengers into it is not the solution because who is going to pay top dollar to be a Sardine?
The whole point of Concorde was comfort and speed... the rich enjoyed the comfort and the shorter transit times and the short queues for ticketing and boarding that they are used to for long distance flights in shorter flight times than their personal jet could offer, while middle class people would fly for the experience of traveling on Concorde.
You start putting 300 people on each plane and the ticket queues wlll be like 747 queues and the mystique will be gone and so will the rich passengers... and the middle class passengers are only a small percentage of your trade so having 300 seats will mean less people want to fly...
To make one today that's going to make money (because nobody is going for one that won't) you'll need a lot more than 100 or so passengers, and even then with the inflated price of oil you might still be in the red unless you make the entire thing first class and expensive as crap to ride on (hey, like Concorde).
Now you are getting it...
It's too bad the Gulfstream/Sukhoi SSBJ didn't pan out. That could've had some interesting military applications. Slim down the center fuselage, add a small stores bay, and militarize it and you've got a) a quick reaction ASW/ASuW platform, and b) the basis for a MiG-31 replacement, although to do the latter you'd clearly have to do a bit more to the airframe.
I agree, and Sukhoi probably have a few plans and prototypes of that and the S-60 and indeed the T-4 and are keen to get some real metal cut.
The Tu-160P design perhaps could be applied to the PAK DA to increase the numbers of airframes and reduce the numbers of types of aircraft in Russian AF service... imagine the size of the AESA it could carry in its nose and the linear AESAs in its fixed wing leading edge...
JSTARS and the others weren't doing a damn thing to find SCUDs, the USAF was trying not to get the entire B-2 cancelled (only three test planes were airborne by the end of the war, the decision to only make 21 airframes was early 1992, and it didn't hit IOC until 1997), and calling attention to a capability similar to what they were dorking up in Iraq wouldn't have made it look good.
Not to mention Iraqi deception in using all sorts of vehicles to transport missiles including buses and fuel tankers meant the job of isolating Scud launchers and their resupply vehicles was never going to be as easy as they suspected anyway. Remember Iraq is not Russia or the Soviet Union and for JSTARS to scan for targets it needs to use its radar... which reveals its position and makes it a target.
The threat is irrelevant when SSBNs are always at sea.
The threat is always relevant... just look at media reactions to Bears hundreds of kms from UK airspace... a major full scale launch of bombers to staging areas and employment of inflight refuelling aircraft to keep them there till the order is given is a step that would have a profound effect on the enemies posture, while at the same time it is a step that can be withdrawn and backed away from.
Certainly in a period of heightened tension extra SSBNs can be sent to sea, but this is just a gesture as they can hit their targets from port side.
With the bombers you are saying you are ready to fight and all of a sudden the number of nuclear platforms you can get with a first strike has suddenly diminished while the likely number of nuclear explosions on your territory has greatly increased...
I wonder what'd happen if you put four F135s in a B-1B. The JSF might be a dog but the engine is ridiculous. But...you'd still need a ton of tanker support. Spending the money to make an aerospace bomber removes the need for a) ever having to rely on foreign soil, and b) such a huge tanker fleet. And you achieve total win in the reaction time game.
Just looking at the improvement in performance of the Al-41 over the Al-31 (from 12.5 ton to 18 ton estimated) it would be interesting to see what they could do with the NK-32s in the Blackjack. The maths is fairly simple as the 25 ton thrust NK-32 is twice the power of the Al-31, so assuming the same ratio a 5th gen engine would be in the 36 ton thrust class range.
This would take the Tu-160 with four engines from 100 tons thrust to 144 tons thrust... almost two extra engines worth of power. For the Tu-22M3 with two engines producing 50 tons thrust to 72 tons thrust is like adding half another engine without the weight or drag or complication.
Options with existing aircraft could be to relax the top speed requirement for both aircraft and make the Tu-160 a twin engined aircraft that might be able to super cruise, and a single engined Tu-22M3 with transonic flight performance and longer range.
Of course the best solution is a fixed wing aircraft that is simpler and lighter structurally yet able to carry an enormous amount of fuel or weapons or a significant amount of both.
The new engines developed for the new bomber can be applied to the in service aircraft improving their performance, while at the same time giving real world testing for the engines in a realistic environment... a propfan model could be adapted for the Bear and the Blackjack and Backfire can be adapted for the new engine for the new bomber, which will simplify maintainence and support problems for the two different engines.
If you want a traditional bomber, it's an LO design from the outset or it is simply not survivable.
A traditional bomber is what? For use against strong air defences then stand off weapons can be used... both conventional and nuclear armed. For weaker opponents it can be used in the same way the US uses the B-52.
The thing is that a bomb truck is no longer needed as satellite guided bombs are more cost effective than dumb iron bombs... you know full well that hitting a target with a guided bomb that costs three times more than an iron bomb is a bargain because it will take more than three times more iron bombs to ensure a kill while doing more damage around the target (which may or may not be a problem).
In fact often a guided weapon means smaller bombs can be used which are cheaper to deliver too (less fuel required to carry lighter bombs etc).
Can't be too small, or you're not VLO against VHF-band. A larger airframe, and you're more expensive. OK, so we'll just use it to lob ALCMs...at which point the question again is why bother, given the crapload of cruise missile shooters around.
A Blackjack can move 12,000km at speeds exceeding 800km/h to get to a launch point rapidly, from which it can launch a 5,000km range cruise missile that flys at high subsonic speed to its target... certainly most of its SSNs will be SSGNs and will be able to launch a similar missile, but it can't move to a launch position so rapidly, which might be a technicality you can say, but that same sub or surface ship cannot fly to Afghanistan with an Su-35 escort and orbit an area for a couple of days periodically releasing guided weapons to hit small point targets every few hours.
You could probably do the job with a group of Su-34s, except if the target you are looking for requires a very powerful weapon like the FOABs or something similar.
Previously Soviet strategic bombers were a one trick pony, but with their precision strike capability being added they suddenly become the most likely leg of the nuclear triad to actually be useful and practical and in many cases as Russia has pointed out with precision guided weapons targets that would otherwise have required a nuclear attack to be sure of defeating suddenly become viable targets with conventional weapons.
The current Russian bomber fleet is a strange bunch that could in theory simply be replaced with all Tu-160s, but the problem is that it is the most expensive of the two strategic and one tactic bombers they want to replace.
A more modern Tu-160 with a simpler lighter design without swing wings and with a more optimised shape is the best solution... and for its primary role of strategic nuclear deterrent it doesn't need to penetrate strong enemy air defences because it is not going to be a first strike weapon. Having a super LO bomber in large numbers would be destabilising as useful as it would be in local conflicts. It would also make it too expensive to afford to build in decent numbers which would leave you with the problem of 4 different types performing the same roles.
And we must look at the wider picture too. A Pak da can be used with conventional weapons as well. And against less advanced opponents. And also as a moveable launch platform quickly across the World. Pak Da launched Cruise missiles have many advantanges over SLBMs etc.
Good point... low flying cruise missiles are a challenge. Ballistic SLBMs are fast but have predictible trajectories and as long as you have missiles that can intercept them not the most difficult targets to deal with.
Low flying potentially stealthy cruise missiles on the other hand have that super war winning characteristic... surprise... which is the biggest and most effective killer in real combat.
We have plans for a 5G Strategic Bomber/ We dont need a new strategic bomber
We programm construction of aircraft carriers/We dont need aircraft carriers
We have a deal on Mistral/We dont buy from foreign countries
We will deploy new overseas naval bases/ We dont need them
We will order MiG-35/We are not going to buy it
You need to add context. When a general says maybe we don't need strategic bombers and then Medvedev says we need strategic bombers and they will be benefiting from the work on the 5th gen stealth fighter then I think there is little up for question... I rather suspect the general might have been questioning the time scale... the Tu-95s and Tu-160s are still very young aircraft and could probably soldier on for 3-4 decades to come if properly looked after.
The carrier debate centres around the need for naval air power.
Regarding Mistral the Russians and Soviets have a long history of buying foreign weapons... they bought gatling guns from gatling, the Maxim gun from Maxim, The DC-3 in the form of the Li-2 licence production model, there is a wide range of trucks and tractors they bought licences to produce during the 1930s and 1940s.
They will deploy new overseas naval bases but they need to build up their navy to make use of such bases so for the moment they will not ask for basing rights...
Regarding the Mig-35 I have heard them state they were going to buy some, but I have not seen them mention when they were going to buy or even allocate money for the purchase... we will just have to wait on this.
Personally I think skipping the Mig-35 and getting Mig to make a light 5th gen fighter using technology developed for the Mig-35 and Mig 1.44 and 1.42 and any new stuff they might be working on with the PAK FA would be more useful.