Pentagon Could Seek Funding for New Bomber

A deferred request to fund a new U.S. long-range stealth bomber could resurface in the Defense Department's fiscal 2011 budget proposal, United Press International reported yesterday (see GSN, April 22).

Progress on the bomber has moved in fits and starts after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates halted funding on the project and requested an analysis of the Air Force's need for the new aircraft in the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review.

The defense secretary halted the bomber funding request for fiscal 2010 because the Air Force had insufficiently described the required criteria for the plane, such as the aircraft's range and payload-carrying capacity. The service had also failed to determine whether the aircraft must be capable of delivering nuclear weapons or only conventional weapons (see GSN, Dec. 16).

"We are probably going to proceed with a long-range strike initiative coming out of the Quadrennial Defense Review and various other reviews going on," Gates recently told U.S. soldiers in Kirkuk, Iraq. He estimated that developing the bomber would ultimately cost around $10 billion, but that initial funding would fall around $1 billion.

"We are looking at a family of capabilities, both manned and unmanned," he said.

Early reports on the four-year review indicate that there is a demand for unmanned and manned long-range strategic aircraft, officials said (United Press International, Dec. 17).

December 18, 2009
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A deferred request to fund a new U.S. long-range stealth bomber could resurface in the Defense Department's fiscal 2011 budget proposal, United Press International reported yesterday (see GSN, April 22).