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Unnamed Bomber Czar

81 - Unnamed Bomber Czar

The Air Force’s new long-range strike bomber ranks as one of the Pentagon’s top priorities, is one of its most watched programs and — for a public effort — shrouded in mystery. Even where the money is going is considered top secret information. Given its priority status, funding for the new plane has been largely protected from sequestration. But three things are clear: The Pentagon is eyeing 100 aircraft at a cost of $550 million each; service officials have set the mid-2020s for initial operational capability; and Northrop Grumman and a team composed of Boeing and Lockheed Martin are ready to beat each other into submission to win. The program executive officer — the Air Force has confirmed there is a PEO for the new bomber, but not revealed a name — must keep the program on financial and technological track. That’s key given then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the last bomber effort, accusing it of lacking focus. If the program fails again, the Air Force will have another potentially costly disaster on its hands at a time when it can’t afford to spend money and get nothing in return. If he or she succeeds, the Air Force can reap the benefits, and the nation’s long-range strike leader and the bomber czar can write his or her ticket for a future assignment.

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