Mar 20, 2023
Air Force Seeks $73 Billion for Northrop Bomber, ICBM Through 2028
(Bloomberg) -- The US Air Force’s new five-year spending plan envisions requesting more than $73 billion to develop and procure its new B-21 bomber and Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile, both produced by Northrop Grumman Corp., according to newly released figures.
For the B-21 bomber, the proposed spending through fiscal 2028 totals $35 billion, including $10.6 billion for development and $20.8 for procurement. Production spending to buy what’s now envisioned as a fleet of at least 100 bombers would increase to $3.9 billion in 2025 from $108 million last year. It’s projected to hit $5.6 billion in fiscal 2028.
Proposals for Northrop’s LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM calls for $38.5 billion, including about $15 billion in research and development and $19 billion in procurement, which would jump from $539 million requested for fiscal 2024 to $5.7 billion in fiscal 2026. An additional $19.4 billion is planned for related military construction. The current goal for the missile to have operational capability is May 2029.
The five-year plan that’s part of the annual budget process also disclosed proposed major research spending of $16.2 billion to develop a successor to the F-22 stealth fighter called the Next Generation Air Dominance-Manned Fighter. It also anticipates $6.4 billion for a still-undefined family of as many as 1,000 drones, or Collaborative Combat Aircraft, that in theory could fly as pilotless wingmen on multiple missions. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall disclosed the concept this year.
Development funding for the drones would spike from the $51.7 million Congress approved for this year to $3.1 billion in fiscal 2028. Research spending on the piloted fighter is projected to increase from $1.65 billion approved for this year to $4 billion in 2028, according to the Air Force figures. No contractors have been selected for either program so the numbers portend major competitions.
The Pentagon and military services last week released the broad outlines of their proposed fiscal 2024 budgets but not the five-year specifics that are of particular interest to corporate boards, investors and defense analysts. Those figures started to be disclosed late Friday in so-called Justification, or J-Books.
In a reassurance to Lockheed Martin Corp, the Air Force plans to procure 48 F-35A models each year through 2028, as planned, for $31 billion in procurement. The Air Force is the largest customer in what’s now a $412 billion acquisition program.
Other planned 5-year expenditures of note are:
- $23.5 billion for Boeing Co.’s KC-46 tanker and $1.2 billion for its new presidential aircraft, or Air Force One, program.
- $11 billion to fund 40 National Security Space Launches, including 10 next year and eight in 2025 that will pit Elon Musk’s SpaceX against the United Launch Alliance of Lockheed and Boeing for satellite missions.
- $7.3 billion for continued purchase through 2025 of the Boeing F-15EX fighter, the non-stealthy jet that’s meant to complement the F-35 but carry more ordnance than the F-35.
- $5.8 billion for continued development and procurement of Raytheon Technologies Corp.’s Long-Range Stand-off Weapon nuclear-tipped cruise missile.
- $5 billion for production by Lockheed of the JASSM Extended-Range precision cruise missile.
- $4 billion for Boeing’s T-7A pilot training system, with first of 94 aircraft purchased in fiscal 2025.
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