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U.S. Air Force Expects Huge Uptick in Spending on Bombers

U.S. Air Force B-52H long-range bombers sit on the tarmac at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in September 2007. The Pentagon expects to dramatically ramp up funding for all bomber types in fiscal 2020 and beyond. U.S. Air Force B-52H long-range bombers sit on the tarmac at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in September 2007. The Pentagon expects to dramatically ramp up funding for all bomber types in fiscal 2020 and beyond. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

The Air Force expects spending on bombers to double, come fiscal 2020, as a new aircraft is in the works and older ones get upgrades.

Citing a Pentagon document provided to lawmakers, Bloomberg reports that the budget for those types of aircraft would reach roughly $9.5 billion in another half-decade, up from less than $5 billion envisioned for fiscal 2015, which begins on Oct. 1. Spending would remain above the $9 billion level for the ensuing few years, and drop back to $8 billion in fiscal 2024, according to the news service.

The substantial uptick is the result of a confluence of events: Military officials want to buy a new long-range stealth bomber with initial capability in the mid-2020s, and existing planes -- some decades old -- need upgrades to keep functioning until a successor is fully available.

The Air Force plans to buy up to 100 of the yet-to-be-developed bombers at a total cost of $55 billion or more, according to Bloomberg.

Notably, the news service reports, the Pentagon's projections do not account for automatic spending cuts known as sequestration. The cuts are set to kick in again in fiscal 2016. They were conceived by Congress as a means to force government spending reductions.

The new budget revelations come as lawmakers debate how best to maintain the U.S. nuclear deterrent at the least cost. Some members of Congress see land-based missiles as a cost-effective option compared to other nuclear delivery platforms, namely long-range bombers and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

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