Buying the B-3: Procurement Reform and the Long Range Strike Bomber

The US Air Force will soon select a prime contractor to develop and build a new long-range bomber. The pressure for this procurement to succeed is considerable, but the goal is ambitious: to produce 80–100 aircraft at a unit cost of $550 million in 2010 dollars. The air force must be given bureaucratic power and initiative if it is to control the program’s cost and navigate a complex, centralized acquisition system while ensuring that the bomber can penetrate modern, front-line air defenses at intercontinental distances. The air force and the Defense Department are anxious to employ several initiatives to reform the acquisition process. The new long-range bomber will test those measures, and indeed the program’s ultimate fate could depend on these initiatives.

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