Air Force Chief: Bomber Cost to Be Tightly Capped

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 15, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

The U.S. Air Force will keep costs and mil­it­ary re­quire­ments for its fu­ture bomber air­craft tightly con­strained, ser­vice Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said this week.

“Cost is go­ing to be a no-kid­ding in­de­pend­ent vari­able in this,” Welsh told re­port­ers at a Wed­nes­day break­fast ses­sion, ac­cord­ing to Jane’s De­fense Weekly.

The fly­ing ser­vice in­tends to buy 80 to 100 of the nuc­le­ar- and con­ven­tion­al-cap­able air­craft be­gin­ning in the 2020s, with each bomber cost­ing roughly $550 mil­lion. Welsh said that unit price should be enough to make the bomber a “cap­able ma­chine,” Jane’s re­por­ted.

To de­vel­op the new stealthy air­craft, the Air Force is spend­ing $440 mil­lion this year, and in­tends to ramp up to $1 bil­lion for its R&D in­vest­ment next year, the Air Force News Ser­vice re­por­ted.

Welsh said that to con­trol costs, his ser­vice must avoid the tempta­tion dur­ing the on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment­al phase to gold-plate the new bomber with like-to-have but un­ne­ces­sary cap­ab­il­it­ies, a phe­nomen­on some­times called “re­quire­ments drift.”

“We are not go­ing to go there,” he said at the De­fense Writers Group for­um, say­ing the bomber would use only proven tech­no­lo­gies, the mil­it­ary news ser­vice re­por­ted.

Welsh also noted that the Air Force would cut back on the num­ber of leth­al drones it fields for coun­terter­ror­ism op­er­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to a Wed­nes­day re­port in the Wash­ing­ton Post.

With a grow­ing fo­cus on boost­ing the U.S. mil­it­ary pres­ence in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, the Air Force will re­duce drone activ­it­ies from the cur­rent av­er­age of 62 com­bat op­er­a­tions per day world­wide to something more on the or­der of 45, Welsh said.

The ser­vice uses the drones in coun­terter­ror­ism ef­forts in Afgh­anistan — where U.S. com­bat op­er­a­tions will mostly draw to a close in 2014 — and in Ye­men, Somalia, West Africa and along the Turk­ish-Ir­aqi bor­der, ac­cord­ing to the Post re­port.

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