U.S. Air Force sticks to $550 mln target for new bomber

WASHINGTON, March 11 Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:25pm EDT

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force is "holding tight" to a target of $550 million for each new long-range bomber in a fleet of up to 100 aircraft, excluding research and development costs, a top Air Force official said Tuesday.

"We're still using that as a pretty firm chalk line for those companies that are bidding on it, and in determining which requirements make it, and which ones don't," Air Force Undersecretary Eric Fanning told reporters.

He said the cost per aircraft would be higher if research and development costs and inflation were added in, and acknowledged that there were "a number of people" who thought the $550 million target price tag was too low to develop the kind of requirements needed for a next-generation bomber.

Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp have teamed up to compete against Northrop Grumman Corp to develop a successor to Northrop's B-2 bomber in one of the biggest new aircrat development programs being launched by the U.S. military at a time when defense budgets are being cut.

The Air Force has said it plans to buy 80 to 100 new bombers. It expects to formally kick off a competition later this year that will map out specific quantities and requirements.

The project is one of the Air Force's top priorities, along with the Lockheed F-35 fighter jet and the KC-46A refueling plane being built by Boeing.

Fanning said the cost target for the bomber was helping to ensure that the Air Force and the companies involved remained disciplined about the sort of capabilities and equipment being proposed for the new aircraft.

He said former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had been passionate about limiting the cost of the new program, and the Air Force was still "hewing pretty hard to that number."

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Comments (3)
klingon wrote:
They had a very good replacement in 1964 with the XB-70. They had 2 prototypes they built but the second one crashed when a chase plane got caught up in the wing tip vortices. It was designed to fly at over 80,000 feet at a constant speed in excess of mach 3. At the time it was cancelled, the USAF cited the costs of $43 million per plane. lets do the math and advance that same platform into today’s technology. Uswing radar absorbing materials, combined with modern electronics and technology, we could same a decade off of design, prototype and engineering costs and still have something that will scare the hell out of anyone who sees it coming. GOOGLE the XB 70 and the last surviving one is on display at the USAF museum in Dayton Ohio

Mar 12, 2014 9:00am EDT  --  Report as abuse
S6123 wrote:
A new B-52 built today in inflation adjusted dollars would run about $75 million; shouldn’t we be able to “stealth” it for say double the cost? This had better be a purpose built bomber without all the “what if/gee whiz/just in case we need it for something else” extras Christmas treed on it. If the chAir Force says $500MM, you can bet it’s going to run $1B per copy.

Mar 12, 2014 10:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
andert356 wrote:
Yeah, right. There will be no money left after the F-35. They will have a fighter that doesn’t work and no new bomber.

Which might be a good thing because then they can stop spending our money on war.

Mar 12, 2014 5:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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