The B-21 Rider, a new generation US Air Force strategic bomber, designed to overcome enemy air defenses in an "invisible" mode, is gradually becoming "invisible" to American taxpayers in terms of funding its development.
Citing the need to protect national security interests, the Air Force command is keeping secret the cost of the 2015 contract with the B-21 developer Northrop Grumman, as well as the estimated total cost of maintaining the program.
As you know, the new B-21 bomber should replace the outdated B-1 and B-2. In accordance with the plan, the Pentagon intends to purchase 100 new aircraft, which will begin to enter service in the mid-2020s. Moreover, their ability to deliver nuclear weapons will be certified only two years after joining the Air Force. Last October, the Congressional Budget Commission projected the total cost of the program, including development and procurement, at $ 97 billion.
The discrepancies in the financing of the B-21 program began at the stage of the struggle for the contract. Northrop Grumman secured the victory in receiving the order by setting a price lower than the one proposed by the Pentagon during the tender.
However, this case is far from the first in the practice of large military contractors. Having received the long-awaited multi-billion dollar order, the newly-minted performers then more than compensate for all their expenses and, moreover, make good money on it. So, in the 1980s, the cost of the B-2 bombers program significantly exceeded its original figure. As a result, instead of purchasing the planned 135-150 aircraft, the Pentagon purchased only 20. A similar fate befell the subsequent F-22 and F-35 programs.