Just a Rough Guess

The Air Force’s notional unit cost of the new penetrating bomber—which service officials peg at $550 million for a run of 80 to 100 of the aircraft—is, at best, a “rough estimate,” according to Shay Assad, director of defense pricing at the Pentagon. It’s premature to talk cost on the bomber because requirements have yet to “settle down,” and it hasn’t been determined yet exactly how the cost of the aircraft will be predicted, he told defense writers Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Assad said there will be comparisons with previous bombers—the B-2 went out of production about a decade ago—as well as “‘similar-to’-type technologies, to the degree that they exist.” However, he said, it’s always possible that the cost figure will be fixed at the outset of the program, and the airplane designed to fit the money, rather than vice versa. “We . . . might establish, within the department, a position that says, ‘This is all we can afford.’ And in that regard, then you have to make the requirement meet that [dollar figure],” he said. Assad expects to have “more insight” into the bomber’s requirements in three to nine months.