The U.S. Defense Department last week more than tripled its estimate for how much Washington will eventually need to pay each year for its long-distance bomber aircraft, Inside Defense reported.
The figure is on track to hit $10 billion by fiscal 2021, the Pentagon told lawmakers in its latest "aviation inventory and funding plan." Last year's three-decade report said expenditures would remain short of $3 billion annually for acquiring a next-generation bomber and maintaining the country's existing B-1, B-2 and B-52 planes.
The Pentagon attributed the increase to a more "realistic" expense projection for a planned Long-Range Strike bomber. The Air Force wants to begin deploying the new aircraft in the middle of the next decade, and eventually to acquire between 80 and 100 of them.
Still, U.S. bomber spending could face significant future cuts under budget sequestration.