Wed, Feb 15, 2012
AF CoS Gen. Norman Schwartz Said Design Should Not Be
As the Air Force looks for its next bomber aircraft, the design
should not be "extravagant," and the aircraft should be affordable.
Those parameters were laid out in a speech by Air Force Chief of
Staff Norton Schwartz last week.
General Schwartz said it was more important that the airplane be
able to be built in significant numbers and ready for delivery in
the mid 2020s. He said it was also important to avoid the
experience the Air Force had when it was building the B-2. That
program was cut from 131 to just 21 aircraft following the end of
the cold war and high development and operational costs. Each B-2
cost in the neighborhood of $2 billion.
Reuters reports that the major players are all lining up for a
shot at the next Air Force bomber. Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and
Lockheed Martin are all looking at the possibility of competing for
Schwartz said the important thing is not to "over-design" the
new airplane, but said the aircraft could be improved over time.
"We are not intent on delivering a capability that is extravagant,
that is excess to our absolute needs," he said.
Analysts think the Air Force will eventually order 200 of the
new airplanes at a cost somewhere around $550 million each. But
defense cuts have others wondering if those numbers aren't somewhat
ambitious. The rough time frame would have a design selected and
annual delivery schedule set sometime after 2018.
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