Air Force Secretary Says B-21 Unit Cost Has Decreased After Negotiations With Northrop Grumman

Air Force Secretary Says B-21 Unit Cost Has Decreased After Negotiations With Northrop Grumman


A detailed up view of the B-21 Raider (Northrop Grumman photograph)

Air Drive Secretary Frank Kendall informed the Senate Protection Appropriations Subcommittee that the unit price of the B-21 Raider bomber reveals a lower in FY25 finances.

The unit price of the B-21 Raider sixth era bomber (whose flight testing is underway), is lowering following negotiations with Northrop Grumman, Air Drive Secretary Frank Kendall stated throughout a Senate Appropriations subcommittee listening to on Apr. 9, 2024.

This price discount signifies optimistic progress within the negotiations, he said:

“I’d level out that the manufacturing numbers within the finances this yr present a lower in unit price as a result of we’ve got negotiated decrease costs”.

He selected to not talk about upcoming milestones for the B-21 through the listening to on the division’s proposed fiscal 2025 finances, citing this system’s excessive degree of secrecy and classification.

Developed with the following era of stealth know-how and an open techniques structure, the B-21 Raider will function the spine of America’s bomber fleet. (Photograph: Northrop Grumman)

When the primary B-21 was unveiled to the general public in December 2022, the Air Drive said it anticipated common unit procurement price of $692 million. The present unit prices of the bomber weren’t disclosed as a result of its categorised nature, nonetheless, it appears just like the procurement finances for the B-21 in FY2025 was adjusted to replicate optimistic negotiations relating to low-rate initial production costs, however clarified that neither this system’s portions nor scope have been altered.

A cropped and digitally altered (to spotlight the form of the plane) screenshot from a video posted on X depicting the B-21 throughout a latest check flight.

Whereas the variety of plane lined by the primary LRIP contract was not disclosed, some stories on the time of the first flight stated it might cowl as much as 21 plane. On the identical time, Northrop Grumman stated six airframes have been in various stages of production, together with the one already flying.

B-21 Raider is a key funding precedence

“The B-21 is vital funding precedence in FY25” to fulfill the Nationwide Protection Technique Priorities, stated Air Drive Chief of Workers Gen. David W. Allvin.

“The B-21 and its Household of Methods (particulars accessible at a better classification) would be the spine of the Air Drive’s bomber pressure and supply vital operational functionality for each standard and nuclear missions and supply precision results en masse in opposition to targets worldwide. The Air Drive is dedicated to constructing resilient ahead basing ($594M) that ensures sustainable and networked bases able to adequate sortie era and mission execution in a contested setting,” says the Division of the Air Drive Posture Assertion document.

B-21 first flight
The B-21 throughout its first flight (photograph by @point_mugu_skies edited by The Aviationist)

The B-21 was simply one of many issues mentioned by Air Drive Secretary Frank Kendall, together with Air Drive Chief of Workers Gen. David W. Allvin and Chief of Area Operations Gen. Likelihood Saltzman, the service’s two highest-ranking army leaders, through the listening to that kicked off the prolonged congressional course of designed to finalize the FY25 finances by Sept. 30. The official objective of the listening to was to clarify the Division of the Air Drive’s $217.5 billion finances request for the 2025 fiscal yr which begins Oct. 1.

The FY25 finances requests greater than $19.4 billions for nuclear modernization efforts together with the Sentinel Floor Based mostly Strategic Deterrent, B-21 Raider, Survivable Airborne Operations Middle (SAOC), Lengthy-Vary Standoff Weapon, Subsequent-Era Overhead Persistent Infrared applications, and the Developed Satellite tv for pc Communication System.

The danger of finances delays

Based on the Kendall, finances delays might impede the Air Drive’s means to remain forward in fashionable warfare and compete efficiently in opposition to China.

“Time issues, however so do sources. America can be now going through a competitor with nationwide buying energy that exceeds our personal, a problem we’ve got by no means confronted in fashionable occasions,” he said in his opening assertion.

“We stay dedicated to the (sixth era plane) household of techniques, notably Collaborative Fight Plane, which is able to permit the Air Drive to ship the inexpensive mass required to be efficient in opposition to the very succesful PRC,” Gen. David W. Allvin stated, describing the latest era of fighter plane and a collection of inexpensive and autonomous plane. “We’re additionally dedicated to constructing ahead basing resilient sufficient to allow continued sortie era, even whereas beneath assault.”

For the Air Drive, the finances consists of cash to buy extra F-35s and F-15EXs, “albeit with fewer than most popular portions,” Allvin stated.

An F-15EX outfitted with EPAWSS. (U.S. Air Drive photograph by Tech. Sgt. John Raven)

“Procurement accounts have been adjusted downward within the Air Drive from earlier ranges for some key applications, together with F-35 and F-15E/X,” says the Air Drive Posture Assertion doc. “Procurement accounts additionally decreased with fact-of-life delays in T-7 and E-7 manufacturing. The Air Drive procurement account decreased from $30.6B within the FY24 request to $29.0B in FY25 and the Area Drive procurement account decreased from $4.7B to $4.3B. These changes usually allowed analysis and growth accounts to maintain tempo with inflation. They didn’t allow the specified progress over time. That is notably true for the Area Drive the place transformational modernization is required urgently.”

F-35 functionality fee

Mission functionality charges for the F-35 fighter and different plane have been among the many subjects mentioned within the Q&Part of the listening to. This isn’t a shock, contemplating the latest report by the Director, Operational Check & Analysis (DOT&E) confirmed that the F-35 fleet has a full mission succesful fee of solely 30% regardless of the focused 65%.

The Pentagon’s high testing workplace, the Director, Operational Check & Analysis (DOT&E), lately launched its workplace’s annual report, which confirmed that the F-35 program has a fleet-wide full mission succesful fee of solely 30%. If we take into accounts solely the “combat-coded” plane (these assigned to lively squadrons with an assigned fight mission), the speed is 48%.

Kendall acknowledged that the readiness fee for the F-35, sits at around 60%, a standing that represents “the minimally acceptable fee”. Though the Air Drive just isn’t the place the service need to be, Kendall stated the speed is predicted to enhance.

US Air Drive F-35A getting ready to refuel (Photograph: NATO Air Command)


David Cenciotti is a journalist based mostly in Rome, Italy. He’s the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of many world’s most well-known and skim army aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for main worldwide magazines, together with Air Forces Month-to-month, Fight Plane, and lots of others, protecting aviation, protection, battle, business, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of fight planes with totally different air forces. He’s a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Drive, a non-public pilot and a graduate in Pc Engineering. He has written 5 books and contributed to many extra ones.


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