New Rockets, On Sale: For certain kinds of launch vehicles, the price of getting to orbit may be coming down substantially given new entrants in the industry, Space Command chief Gen. William Shelton said Tuesday. In a press conference at AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Shelton said “we’re confident and hopeful” of “considerable reductions” in launch costs in the near future; possibly as early as next year. Although “there are all kinds of promises out there [about lower costs], if you listen to the launch provider, they say that at half the cost, they can provide equal capability.” He’s skeptical of such a steep price cut, though. “We believe that once you add what we would require for mission assurance, what we would require for reliability purposes, that’s probably a bridge too far.” If a 50 percent cut is really possible, “sign me up,” Shelton said. But “I would hope for a number of between 25 and 50 percent.” He said “I think that’s what’s achievable. … If we don’t achieve it in this first buy that we’re going to award in 2013, I would think I the next buy beyond that, we’re looking at significant reductions in cost.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.