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The A-12 Avenger: The Navy’s Plan to Launch Stealth Bombers from Aircraft Carriers

During the closing stages of the Cold War, the United States Navy was developing a new long-range stealth bomber that could strike at even the most heavily defended targets from the deck of an aircraft carrier. But the ill-fated program was cancelled, leaving a gap in naval aviation capability that has not been filled to this day.

Called the McDonnell Douglas/General Dynamics A-12 Avenger II?a product of the Advanced Tactical Aircraft (ATA) program?the new bomber would have replaced the long-serving Grumman A-6E Intruder.

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New U.S. Secret Bomber Program Passes Critical Design Review

The Air Force?s secret stealth bomber program has passed a major early milestone, according to Air Force officials. “Our most recent review was last week, and the B-21 Raider is on schedule and performance,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said at a defense forum in California over the weekend.

Air Force officials confirmed to Popular Mechanics that she was referring to the Critical Design Review (CDR), considered a major milestone in the program. Here’s what that means?and what it means for the future of the next great bomber.

The central question of the Pentagon’s CDR process is determining whether a program is mature enough to dive into the deep end of full-scale fabrication and testing. There are details about factory hardware, production processes, and software specifications to look at. The review also matches the program requirements with a budget and a schedule. One can infer from this news that the CDR confirmed the Air Force?s stated $550 million per Raider price tag.

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PopularMechanics.com