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Why did the US Air Force reject Northrop Grumman's YF-23 stealth fighter design due to dissatisfaction with the B-2 project's management but chose Northrop Grumman again for the B-21 Raider project?Actually it is my understanding that the YF-23 was rejected for two reasons, and neither reason had anything to do with project management. The first reason was because the YF-22 was more maneuverable with its thrust vectoring, and the second was because the Navy had been interested in the possibility of putting some on an aircraft carrier. The decision not to do this came after production had begun on the F-22, partially because of costs to modify it.There have been many cases where the Government was not happy with how a project was being managed, but each project is judged on it's own merits. Remember the C-17? The DoD purchased quite a few of them. Throughout that entire development the Government threatened to shut down the project because of poor project management. Boeing stepped in and purchased McDonald Douglas, and the project continued to completion. The costs were much higher than originally anticipated but the plane was built anyway. Essentially, the government's job is oversight, which means to complain about costs and project management.
How does the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber bypass the radar?I joined the B-2 team late in the design phase (1982). It was the first time I heard the phrase we wee to give if someone asked this question. “I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you”. Pretty sure at least some of that stuff is still true.
Is American aerospace engineering stalling since the US Air Force's new Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider looks nearly identical to the B-2 Spirit unveiled nearly 30 years ago?A lack of leadership and imagination and a prefrontal lobotomy is why US aircraft development is not making progress.I’ve always wondered what the heck happened? In 1963 Joseph A Walker entered space for his second time, 108 km in altitude he was weightless for 5 minutes. He actually entered space 3 times. Eat your heart out, Virgin Galactic! He was flying the X-15 at Mach 5.58 in 1963! Then he landed like an airplane. The entire flight lasted 12 minutes after dropping from the wing of a B-52.In fact, Joseph Walker was one of 8 pilots to become astronauts at this time flying the X-15. These astronauts flew a hypersonic aircraft into space in the 1960s. NASA considered using the X-15 to launch satellites.During this time, the US would build A-12 fighters that flew faster and higher than the larger SR-71 and had missiles that could shoot down aircraft below them. Why then, isn’t there an orbital or least suborbital fighter?Now, there was a materials problem back then. The speed of the X-15 was limited because of heat building up and damaging the aircraft. That problem has since been solved. Elon Musks SpaceX is not the first to use little holes in Stainless steel to cool surfaces.Did the US continue what seems to be the most practical engineering approach to space? Are there orbital fighters now that are a secret? It’s possible I suppose but unlikely because of the way the X-15 program ended.The X-15 program was abruptly canceled in Nov of 1968. The X-15 that was about to fly on Nov 21, 1968, was put in storage and eventually donated to a museum. Nixon was just elected president. There is no explanation.What in the hell happened?In 1989, as the Soviet Union was breaking up, the US defense industry listened to the voices on Wall Street telling them that in order to remain profitable in a post-cold war era, the defense industry needed to do something about it pension plans. The solution, offer all senior white-collar workers including the best engineers an incentive to retire early with a cash payment. It was an offer they couldn’t refuse. Wall Street cheered as the defense industry lobotomized itself. The tribal knowledge of those engineers was not passed down to the next generation. The cycle of progress was cut off and that knowledge was lost forever.If you wonder why aircraft are not progressing. Take a look at ULA, a consortium of defense contractors. For years and years, the defense contractors charged $400 million a pop to launch satellites. There was no signNow innovation. Rather than develop their own engines they purchased them from Russia. SpaceX now charges $60 million to $120 million for a flight depending on what the customer wants. Elon Musk had a vision where others did not.Rocketry in a country that built the Saturn V in the 1960s actually regressed before SpaceX came along. The United States, who first put men on the moon in the 1960s, even as I write this, must pay the Russians to take US astronauts to the space station.The only thing that comes to mind as to why this happened is that the political leadership of the US is failing. I mean look at NASA, Clinton creates a program to go Mars; Bush cancels Clinton’s Mars program and creates a moon initiative; Obama cancels Bush’s moon initiative and creates a new Mars initiative; Trump cancels Obama’s Mars program and creates a moon initiative. The US is going nowhere.You can’t build big things when there is no budget and Congress, unable to come up with a budget, has put the US on stopgap funding for a decade now. The US research establishment is living paycheck to paycheck. This is no way to run a country.
When do I have to learn how to fill out a W-2 form?Form W-2 is an obligatory form to be completed by every employer. Form W-2 doesn’t have to be filled out by the employee. It is given to inform the employee about the amount of his annual income and taxes withheld from it.You can find a lot of information here: http://bit.ly/2NjjlJi
How crucial is the role of software engineers at SpaceX or Northrop Grumman comparing to other Hardware or mechanical engineers?The Northrop Grumman I worked for was hardware engineers. We did network security for the AF.
Why was the US Air Force reportedly very upset with the way Northrop Grumman ran the program to develop and build the B-2 Spirit stealth aircraft despite the airplane being a pinnacle of aeronautical and stealth engineering and technology?I don’t know the details of the US Air Force’s consternation but I will tell you that I never worked on a program where the customer was not routinely upset with the defense contractor. It’s the nature of the beast. It works the other way too. The contractors get very annoyed with their customers. The problem is that the customers are notoriously bad a defining their requirements AND even when defined, they continuously change. Every time the customer changes the requirements, it costs time and money, thus causing the customer to be upset. Additionally, these are very long-lived programs, often spanning 30 years or more. Many things fluctuate and change in that amount of time; labor costs, material costs, geopolitical conditions and yes, system requirements. It’s just the way it is.
How did Northrop Grumman get chosen to build the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope?I was at TRW when the JWST project was called Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), but I did not participate in the proposal.Meet the Team Webb/NASAWe had our sights on the project for a long time. In the late 1980s, when NASA was building the four great observatories (Space Telescope “Hubble”, Space Infrared Telescope Facilty (SIRTF), Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO) “Compton”, and Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF) “Chandra”), TRW won the payload/ spacecraft/ system integration contracts for the latter two facilities. TRW understood that doing business with NASA is different than with military customers. Whereas the military would expect TRW to act as a “prime” contractor, NASA has a much more hands-on approach and performs the prime role.Following the loss of ST and SIRTF,* both which may be considered traditional optical telescopes with high-resolution focal plane detector arrays, TRW redoubled effort to produce a new concept for NGST (re-named JWST when the project was initiated). The design of the telescope makes use of an innovative thermal radiator which allows the telescope to be cooled to cryogenic temperatures passively. It make use of a lightweight deformable mirror design (similar to most large ground-based telescopes). TRW had previously performed internal research and development in these area in order to have the risk reduced on any upcoming project that chose to use the technology.Finally, as a longtime system integrator, TRW (now Northrop Grumman Corp) had a good understanding of the technical approach needed for such a major project.These factors (1) understanding of the problem: demonstrated large NASA system development, (2) practical experience working with the customer on a day-to-day basis on comparable NASA efforts, (3) use of high technology to achieve the desired performance characteristics , (4) having the infrastructure in place to manage a large-scale technical project , and (5) past performance in building comparable NASA space vehicles, made an attractive offer that NASA accepted.I was the proposal manager for the non-selected TRW bid for SIRTF. TRW had studied SIRTF and had developed concepts for the space vehicle several years before the actual RFP release (SIRTF has been around as a concept since 1971) . Unfortunately, I suspect that TRW’s design was rather too conventional and costly for NASA’s proposal evaluation team.An introduction to NASA’s Great Observatories
How has Lockheed Martin been able to get more more military contracts than either Boeing or Northrop Grumman?Lockheed Martin focuses almost exclusively on government contracts. as a result they can focus their internal research and development on a smaller customer base then a company that also competes in the commercial market. Contract terms and conditions, business ethics, and customer priorities vary greatly between government and commercial markets. Trying to satisfy both makes it hard to be the best at either.