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The Pentagon has chosen Northrop Grumman to build the U.S. Air Force’s next strategic bomber, and Boeing, which led the competition, has filed a protest. But regardless of how that turns out, the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) is part of an unrealistic, $1 trillion plan to rebuild the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Like much of the nuclear strategy, the proposed bomber is out of sync with military needs and budget reality. Instead of rushing headlong into disaster, as the Air Force did with the previous bomber, the B-2, the Obama administration needs to cool its jets.
The first problem is cost. The Air Force plans to build 100 new LRS-B aircraft, unofficially known as the B-3, for $550 million each plus $21 billion for development, for a total production cost of about $100 billion with inflation. Right off the bat, the bomber program will actually cost at least twice the advertised sticker price. This will not inspire public confidence.
We have seen this movie before. Back in the 1980s, the B-2, also built by Northrop, was sold to Congress and taxpayers for about $550 million each, or $860 million in today’s dollars. But the bombers ended up costing what would be $3.4 billion per copy today—a fourfold increase. Initial plans called for 132 aircraft, and then the price rose and the Berlin Wall fell. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush cut production to 21.
This guy is the policy director at the Ploughshares Fund, and has decided that not only can we "safely delay the LRS-B program for 10 years without compromising the integrity of the bomber fleet",