The top Air Force official wants to avoid repeating the costly mistakes of the B-2 bomber with the military’s newest stealth aircraft by involving other government agencies in the development process.
“I know exactly how not to do this,” Air Force chief Gen. David Goldfein told Bloomberg News in an interview Tuesday. The wrong way is to treat the B-21 production is to keep the details secret, roll it out, then face fallout from “sticker shock.” That’s how “you end up with 21 aircraft,” Goldfein said.
The B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber program, the stealth jet in development by the Air Force, is expected to cost a total of $80 billion. The advantage of the advanced bomber is secrecy. However Goldfein doesn’t want to repeat the B-2 program development, which shrouded cost overruns and resulted in the U.S. building only 21 planes instead of the planned 132. Each B-2 cost an average of $2.2 billion.
Little is known about the new stealth bomber except the anticipated $80 billion program cost and that it will be called the Raider. (RELATED: We Almost Had A Stealth Bomber Named ‘MyLveUBombTime’)
“As the [B-21] program matures, I’ve told the team that we’re going to continue to move the ball toward more transparency, but we are going to have to work with the committees on what that looks like,” Goldfein said at a recent congressional hearing. “If we try to stay where we are right now the entire length of the program, then we’re following the path of the B-2, and we’re not going to follow that path.”
Goldfein hopes to strike a balance between secrecy and oversight. The Government Accountability Office, for example, “is firmly involved in this program because I want an outside entity looking in, that’s watching this and reporting to the Hill and reporting to me,” Goldfein said.
The Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General will “conduct an evaluation and submit a report” to Congress this year on “the security strategy, controls and program protection plan” for the B-21, the office announced in May.
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