May 7, 2014
Bomber-Plane Budget by U.S. Air Force Projected to Double
The current goal is to achieve an initial capability in the mid-2020s for the new Long-Range Strike Bomber while also upgrading the B-2 and the B-1 and B-52, according to the plan that was submitted to Congress last month.
The new bomber is described by the Air Force as vital to reaching far-flung, heavily defended targets worldwide. The service has said it may buy as many as 100 of the new aircraft in a program.
Lockheed and Boeing said in October that they planned to bid on the project as a team. Northrop Grumman, hasn’t announced that it intends to bid.
In addition to funding for bomber programs, the Pentagon report, “Annual Aviation Inventory and Funding Plan” for fiscal years 2015 to 2044, outlines long-range plans for fighters, drones and helicopters.
It anticipates continued purchases of Lockheed’s C-130J transport plane, buying 32 more by 2021 for use by special operations forces as AC-130 gunships.
In addition, the Marine Corps will continue to purchase the aircraft as an aerial tanker.
P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft didn’t fare as well. The Pentagon has cut its planned inventory to 109 from 117.
The report also outlines steps the Navy is taking to make up for delaying the purchase of 33 F-35C aircraft from Lockheed beyond fiscal 2019.
These include extending the service lives of 150 Boeing F/A-18A-D jets and accelerating the conversion of older F/A-18C models into the newer E/F jet.
The Navy also is undertaking a program to extend to 9,000 hours the current 6,000-flight-hour life of the E/F aircraft.