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RAPTOR'S YOUNGER COUSIN BOMBS

Their F/A-22 stealth fighter may be the meatiest target of Pentagon bugdet-cutters. But that's not stopping the folks at Lockheed from working on the next phase of the F-22 program -- a bomber variant that can change shape and color on command.Right now, "the high-speed, high-altitude bomber known as the F/B-22...is only an idea in the minds of Lockheed engineers," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. And that's allowed some freedom to get freaky with the plane's features. One notion being tossed around: "a sensor that detects surrounding colors and transmits them to an electified coating that takes on hues of blue and gray." Another: "shedding fuel tanks for additional speed."

The bomber would take off with extra fuel in "conformal" tanks or saddlebags that, once empty, could be pulled into the airplane during flight. With fuel tanks tucked inside, the F/B-22 could fly at supersonic speeds while retaining a shape that would allow it to fly anywhere in the world undetected by radar...The idea has been around since World War II, when U.S. fighters carried external tanks to extend their range, then dropped them to become lighter and more maneuverable in combat. The stealthy F/B-22 takes that idea a step further.
Click here and here for some background on the new-jack bomber.

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