Why so Long?

If the Air Force’s future bomber is going to be based on proven technology, then why won’t it enter the inventory until the mid 2020s? “This is an issue of affordability and fitting this program in with all the other Air Force priorities,” Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers last week. Donley said the Air Force has to balance the bomber work with building the new KC-46A tanker and F-35 strike fighter and funding its satellite projects. “So this is a matter of fitting all this work in together,” he said. Rep. Steven Rothman (D-N.J.) asked Donley the question during the March 31 hearing of the House Appropriation Committee’s defense panel to discuss the service’s Fiscal 2012 budget request. The Air Force seeks $197 million in Fiscal 2012 for the bomber and has programmed $3.7 billion for it from Fiscal 2012 through Fiscal 2016. (Donley-Schwartz prepared statement)