Protecting LRS-B

Over the next few months, the Air Force needs to “figure out how to live with” significantly less funding in Fiscal 2017, while still looking to protect its major procurement programs—the Long-Range Strike Bomber, the KC-46 tanker, and the F-35, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said. Although budgeters are happy the bipartisan budget deal provides some relief for the next two years, the Pentagon as a whole faces a $17 billion cut in 2017, James said. The Air Force is committed to buying the top number in the range of 80 to 100 LRS-Bs the service has repeatedly said is required. “The number is 100,” James said during a Dec. 2 speech at the National Press Club at Washington, D.C. Frank Kendall, the defense undersecretary for acquisition, said on Tuesday the bomber is a “priority” and will be protected from future budget cuts, reported Defense News. The Air Force announced Northrop Grumman won the contract to produce the LRS-B fleet in late October, with a target cost of about $550 million per aircraft and an initial operating capability goal of the mid-2020s.