Ares

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  • Oh No, Not Again
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 10:39 AM on Sep 17, 2009

    Defense Secretary Bob Gates wasn't exactly encouraging about a future bomber in Wednesday's address to the Air Force Association convention, held at a remote facility some distance south of Washington. "I'm committed to seeing that the USA has a credible long-range strike capability. But what we don't want to do is do what we did with our last bomber - it was so expensive, costing $2 billion each, that only one-sixth of the planned fleet was built."

    A groan went up from Northrop Grumman bomber people, who feel that the boss (like most media people) had it the wrong way round. The B-2s cost $2 billion each because production was cut off at 21 aircraft, leaving each jet carrying a massive share of non-recurring costs, which included the cost of setting up a production line for 132 aircraft.

    It has to be frustrating because all the pieces, programatically speaking, for a new global ISR and strike system are sitting around, waiting to be put together. A lot of funded B-2 improvements - a final solution for the difficult aft-deck structure, a fully flexible weapon bay, AESA radar and broadband, stealth-compatible satcoms - could be applied directly to a new ultra-stealthy bomber. Ares understands that Northrop Grumman's black-world bomber demonstrator is still alive despite Gates' lack of enthusiasm. But feeding the public belief that a bomber will cost $2 billion doesn't help.

    Tags: ar99, afa09, gates, B-2

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