Bomber Delay Possible

By Christopher J. Castelli / August 1, 2013 at 6:37 PM

The Air Force's next-generation bomber program could be delayed depending how the department responds if faced with a new round of major budget cuts, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld told lawmakers today.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Defense Department's Strategic Choices and Management Review, the admiral said the assessment showed cuts on the order of full sequestration -- $500 billion over a decade -- could potentially delay the program, despite DOD's commitment to developing the new bomber.

"As far as the SCMR goes . . . the deeper you go, the tougher some of this gets, and at the [Budget Control Act] levels . . . [budget cuts] could impact that program in terms of timing or what have you," he said.

"It also would depend a little bit on whether you emphasized capacity or capability, in terms of how many you might buy or whether you would do the program," he added.

But Winnefeld said the Long-Range Strike bomber program is "very important" to DOD. "It's a vital leg of our strategic deterrent of the triad and second, it's a very important element of potential future warfighting concepts that we would need from a standoff capability and also, a penetrating capability," he added. "So we are certainly committed to that program." He said the program appears to be on track.