2018 Date for New Bomber Not Mandatory

Pentagon acquisition chief John Young said last week cost, requirements, and schedule are all dependent variables—and not independent considerations—in the Air Force’s next-generation bomber platform. And all three will determine when the new aircraft will be available. For example, “I have repeatedly said that 2018 was a nice planning date in the QDR; it is not a mandatory date,” Young said during a meeting with reporters June 6 in the Pentagon. Building upon what he told defense reporters three days earlier after an appearance on Capitol Hill, Young said June 6 that he originally did not have confidence in the 2018 date since, in large part, the service’s initial cost estimates for the bomber were too low. “I think even the Air Force has gone and reassessed and come back with more reasonable cost estimates,” he said. The initial numbers were “significantly less” than estimates for more familiar programs such as the B-2 stealth bomber and F-35 stealth fighter, he explained. “And I was very uncomfortable with that.” Young said he has already received the first few quarterly reports from the Defense Science Board team he tasked with assessing the Air Force’s plans for the new bomber. More feedback is anticipated over the course of the year. “I would like to have their inputs as we go into making decisions in 2009,” he said.