Bomber Plan

The Pentagon is requesting $200 million in Fiscal 2012 for the Air Force to launch a new bomber program—about the same it would get under the Fiscal 2011 budget request—and plans to spend $3.7 billion on the aircraft across the new five-year defense plan, according to Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, USAF’s budget chief. Briefing reporters, Flowers said the new bomber would be optionally manned, be based on mature technologies, and have long range, but classification will keep the Air Force from revealing many details. He said that “we won’t even know if there is a competition going on,” but added that there isn’t one at this point. Moreover, this money would fund development of the “entire family” of long-range strike systems, Flowers said, not just the bomber, which Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale described in a Pentagon budget briefing Monday as “the centerpiece” of long-range strike. Hale said the Air Force is hoping to put a capability on the ramp, ready for action in “the mid 2020s.”