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Air Force wants the new bomber in the mid 2020s

The budget crunch in the U.S. continues to hit the military hard as spending is cut and troop levels are diminished. Despite the tightening belt, the Air Force will be moving ahead with its new long-range bomber program. In fact, the timeframe for the bomber has actually been pushed forward.
 
“We expect that there will be a full RFP [request for proposals], a final RFP and a competition probably in the fall time frame,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at a February 26 event hosted by Bloomberg.
 
There are currently two teams working on competing proposals for the next generation bomber. The report believes that the two teams are Northrop Grumman and a tag team effort from Lockheed Martin/Boeing. The competition to choose a bomber design could begin this year with a winning aircraft chosen in 2015.


Artist rendering of the next gen bomber [Image Source: Boeing]
 
When it comes to making details of the program available to the public, some believe that divulging as much [unclassified] information as possible is the proper route.
 
Analyst Rebecca Grant added, "I think this program is way over-mystified. There should be a separation between protecting technology and design, and having the common sense about the program itself. Obviously, a lot about the system is and should remain classified, but the program itself doesn’t need to be classified.”
 
The Air Force hopes to have the new bomber ready for use on the battlefield by the mid-2020s. The Air Force has plans to purchase 80 to 100 of the aircraft at a cost of $550 million per unit. For comparison, 21 B-2 Spirit bombers were produced (at a cost of $737 million each), while 100 B-1B Lancer bombers were constructed (at a cost of $283 million each).
 
Costs are being kept low on the bomber in part by sourcing tech that has been used on other aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and the Navy’s unmanned X-47B drone.

Source: Defense News





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