Sequestration Endangers New Bomber, Air Force Secretary Warns

January 11, 2013

The head of the U.S. Air Force on Friday said his service hopes to keep plans for developing a future strategic bomber on track in the face of looming budget cuts, but he suggested the project's future could be in question if federal sequestration takes effect.

The Air Force hopes by the mid-2020s to start receiving the new bombers, which are intended to gradually replace the service's aging B-1 and B-2 aircraft. The Pentagon has indicated it wants to design and build between 80 and 100 of the aircraft designed to carry nuclear bombs.

"Long-term, we're committed to the Long-Range Strike Bomber," Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told reporters at the Pentagon. "We're going to try to keep programs like that on track, but every program would be affected if sequestration were to hit."

A "fiscal cliff" plan signed into law on Jan. 2 delayed by two months a set of mandatory, across-the-board spending cuts previously set to take effect at the start of this year under the 2011 Budget Control Act. The scheduled reductions would slash funding for most Pentagon programs by nearly one-tenth.

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