In an interesting turn of events, the U.S government has called on its avionics industry to ‘reverse engineer’ parts of its own Air Force’s B-2 Stealth Bomber. The official call for this rare kind of assistance came as a surprise and was put out recently on the U.S government’s contracting website. “beta.sam.gov.”
Mark Thompson brought light to this key project by backing this much important notice by one of the national security analysts. The government oversight project will focus on reverse engineering some crucial parts for the B-2’s load heat exchangers.
The notice came with all the key instructions on keeping the stealth bomber alive for the coming years.
“This engineering effort is to reverse engineer the core of the B2 Load Heat Exchangers, develop disassembly process to remove defective cores, develop a stacking, vacuum brazing, and welding process to manufacture new heat exchanger cores and to develop a welding process to install the new cores on existing B2 Load Heat Exchangers. The requirement includes reverse-engineering the core process for the B2 Load Heat Exchangers. The B2 Load Heat Exchanger uses air and Ethylene Glycol Water liquid to produce cold air for the cooling system.”
“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 for disassembly, core stack up, core vacuum brazing, post braze processing, core installation.”
The second instructional paragraph makes it crystal clear that the requirement is to conduct ‘classic reverse engineering’ where the technology that needs to be replicated will be provided for analysis before getting ahead with the replicating procedures.
“Two government B2 Sink Heat Exchangers will be provided as government-furnished property to prototype this effort. The two prototype units will be delivered after the contract to return the GFP. The final design shall meet the testing qualifications specified in the government technical orders. Finally, a qualified source of repair shall be provided that is capable of remanufacturing the B2 Load Heat Exchangers per the aforementioned deliverables.”
It is hard to conclude as to why this approach is being taken now. However, it clearly depicts that the original plans for these parts are lost and not available anymore. The authorities have clearly lost the tooling and manufacturing processes to build the air marvel.
This may be driven by keeping the stealth bomber’s manufacturing so secretive that the now required parts were destroyed at some point deliberately. Another simpler conclusion could be that authorities lost the parts or procedures while keeping them safe from the rest of the world.