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Once all costs are figured in Davis says the bomber will cost more than the target per unit

When we reported on the U.S. Air Force’s plans for a next generation long-range bomber priced at $550 million a pop, our commenters were quick to point out that there was no way that figure could be accurate. Military procurement programs have the tendency to spiral out of control with regards to costs, as witnessed by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
 
The USAF's top acquisition officer, Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, agrees and says that costs for the bomber will definitely be higher than the quoted figure.
 
Davis said, “Is it going to be $550 million a copy? No, of course it’s not going to be $550 million a copy once you add in everything.”
 
Davis also noted that the military would try to stick as close to that budget of $550 million each as possible. One of the ways the USAF will try and keep to that budget is by preventing extra requirements and untested tech from being included in the platform.


Lt. Gen. Charles R. Davis, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition
 
And unlike the troubled F-35 program, the winning design team – Northrop Grumman or Lockheed Martin/Boeing – for the next generation bomber will only have to satisfy the needs of the USAF. The F-35 has to appease – and adjust to changing operational requirements from – the USAF, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines and the numerous ally nations that have bought into the program.
 
The bomber program also got a significant boost in funding in the FY2015 budget when the funds for research, development, testing, and evaluation were bumped from $379 million to $914 million.
 
The USAF plans to purchase 80 to 100 of the new bombers. 

Source: Defense News



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RE: Divide by 5, Multiply by 6...
By DougF on 3/7/2014 4:32:09 AM , Rating: 2
If I may chime in with over 30 years of maintaining USAF aircraft...

Yes, every single airframe will eventually become a nightmare of maintenance costs. It happens that parts age, manufacturers go out of business, standards (military and civilian) change requiring entirely new components to handle communications and flight regimes and missions. When the BUFF was designed, there was no concept for loitering over a battlefield, providing close air support with laser or GPS guided munitions. International standards for conducting takeoffs and approaches required adding new components (sometimes new engines), wiring, testing, to ensure older USAF aircraft didn't need special permission and air lanes just to fly around the country and the world. And that's just two of dozens of requirement changes.

Did I moan and whine when my beloved F-111s were retired? Sure, but an honest appraisal of the manpower and maintenance costs made converting the F-15 into an air to ground E version worth it. Newer aircraft generally require fewer manpower positions for a variety of reasons that I won't get into detail here, but suffice it to say that manpower is fully 50% of the DoD budget.

Military aircraft have gone through a growth of complexity unparalleled in an any other field. From the simple prop fighters and bombers we have added penetration aids, defensive aids, fire control, engine controls, system controls, etc that require regular maintenance, ops checks, overhaul (and more so for older aircraft) to maintain. The USAF has gone through 3 iterations of maintenance specialties just in my lifetime, adjusting to the requirements dictated by the airframes. It used to be all systems were integrated into one area...the aircrew. Now, computers and millions of lines of software code do the integrating, allowing the pilots to concentrate on their mission. Older airframes and systems just weren't designed for that kind of integration, and updating them is a freakin' nightmare, let alone trying to keep analog and digital systems playing nice together. So, we have to convert older airframes from analog (B-52, KC-135, A-10, U-2, C-5, etc.) to digital at tremendous costs. But you can only do so much before the airframe simply can't do the missions needed not just today, but 10 and 15 years from now. I've had to deal with dies and jigs from the C-5, C-130, C-141, and F-15 production lines. We had to learn how to make and replace components on each of those aircraft that were never designed to be replaced. And it just gets worse as the aircraft ages out.

And unless it's within about 2-5 years of production, restarting production lines is just out of the question. The jigs and other components are scrapped or mothballed requiring either complete rebuild or overhauling, plants have to be opened up (they don't keep the plant in working order just in case it might be needed again), or build new ones because the old one is being used for another production line. Components have to be ordered and sometimes thats 2 years lead time out as those manufacturers are also doing something else or out of business and those dies and forms have probably been scrapped, etc. All this just to start building something that will probably not meet the needs of combatant commanders who are trying to cover everything from fighting guys in caves to WW III, to asymmetric warfare in heavily populated areas, and whatever new style of warfare that's cropped up since the last one of aircraft X was made.

Everyone loves to point fingers at the military that we're fighting this war with the last war's equipment. The moan and bemoan that the military didn't provide the absolute best for not only the nation's interest but for they men and women doing the actual fighting. So, we try to stay ahead of the change curve. For now it's fighting with air dominance in rugged terrain against guys in caves and villages. In 10 years we might be fighting country X over some speck of land or peninsula that is important for reason Y and they have a first-rate military bent on doing what we don't want them to do.

So, the question is, should we wait for something like that to arise? Knowing that it takes years to field new weapon systems or even modify older ones? You really want our sons and daughters using equipment that their grandfathers used? Are you personally willing to tell the parents of those killed in action that we decided that their children could just make do with what they had: "Sorry about that"?

I guess the real question is: Is the United States willing to undergo the costs of keeping the world from WWIII for the foreseeable future? So far, the US has said "yes", and has kept the world from the horror of yet another World War and allowed the incredible growth seen since WW II. But, is that dedication still needed or required? If yes, then we NEED a new bomber, desperately. If not, then it's time to revert back to a National Guard and let the world go it's way.


By Jeffk464 on 3/7/2014 2:50:37 PM , Rating: 1
That's all well and good but we no longer have the economy to be the world's police. China is soon to replace our economy for being the world's largest and there are a lot of economies coming on strong as ours is shrinking. You want to have a military larger than the rest of the worlds combined then you need to have an economy that does the same. The US is going have to learn to be more cooperative and less dominating.


RE: Divide by 5, Multiply by 6...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/7/2014 4:34:22 PM , Rating: 2
First off, I thank you for your years of service and protecting me and my family.

Secondly I certainly don't have the experience you have to debate you on some of these finer points.

quote:
I guess the real question is: Is the United States willing to undergo the costs of keeping the world from WWIII for the foreseeable future? So far, the US has said "yes", and has kept the world from the horror of yet another World War and allowed the incredible growth seen since WW II. But, is that dedication still needed or required? If yes, then we NEED a new bomber, desperately. If not, then it's time to revert back to a National Guard and let the world go it's way.


I think this is what motivated me to say the things I said yesterday. I'm worried that, economically, we will no longer be able to MAKE this choice.


RE: Divide by 5, Multiply by 6...
By FaaR on 3/13/2014 12:15:57 PM , Rating: 1
Protecting you from what, the Canadians? The Mexicans?

...Or the evil, evil commies on an entirely different continent which despite your nuclear ballistic missile arsenal would surely have invaded you without a "defense" force (offense, really!) as big as the other dozen-and-a-half biggest spending nations on the planet?

I'm sure that would have happened.

Look. The biggest military problems the US has faced in modern times have been of its own making. Poking into everybody else's pies instead of just minding your own damn beeswax has cost hundreds of thousands of human lives over the decades.

There's no realistic way you need even a sizeable fraction of your current military forces, only reason you keep paying for a metric shit-ton of military junk you don't need is corruption and your own oversized egos.


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