Jan 21, 2018
The Air Force may not get B-21 bombers on time
Congress is rushing to avoid a government shutdown, which will occur unless lawmakers pass a short-term funding stopgap by Friday. But the Air Force is getting increasingly worried that even the best case scenario — another CR — could curb key modernization efforts like the B-21, its Undersecretary Matt Donovan said.
“A long-term CR will limit execution of the engineering, manufacturing and development phase, the EMD phase, of the B-21,” he said at an Air Force Association event. “We would be limited to the FY17 funding level, which is far below the FY18 budget request. This will have the effect of postponing delivery of the critical strategic capability to the joint warfighter.”
The Air Force allotted $2 billion in its unclassified FY18 budget request for continued EMD activities, up from $1.3 billion the previous year. While the B-21 program currently remains on track, Donovan stated the program will be negatively affected as early as April if the Defense Department remains entangled in a CR.
Northrop Grumman won the B-21 contract in 2015 after a protracted battle with a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team. The Air Force currently intends to buy at least 100 B-21s, with the fielding of the first bombers planned for the mid-2020s.