There are still no set requirements for USAF’s new penetrating bomber program, but the service does have “direction” in the form of a classified memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley Tuesday. Speaking with defense writers in Washington, D.C., Donley said throughout 2010, the Air Force and many other defense agencies conducted a “front-end assessment” of the Fiscal 2012 budget. They pulled apart and scrutinized the previous, cancelled “Next Generation Bomber” program for how they could do the new program more quickly and affordably.
For instance, they migrated ISR elements, as well as some communications capabilities, “offboard,” reported Donley. The Air Force submitted its ideas, and so did the Office of the Secretary of Defense, “the policy community,” “acquisition shop,” Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, Joint Staff, and others, he said. All offered recommendations.
Gates “made his decisions and captured those in a memorandum that gives us direction” for the bomber, and the “parameters of that and other aspects of the ‘family’ of [long-range-strike] systems,” Donley said. USAF will use its “rapid capabilities office to help manage this project,” he said. The service was already applying money to “some of the essential” research and development work to support the bomber while officials hashed out its final shape, he said.