The top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are calling for increased oversight of the US Air Force’s next-generation bomber program after the service acknowledged botching 10-year cost estimates for the plane two years in a row.
The Air Force has scrambled over the last few weeks to do damage control after reports emerged of massive cost discrepancies in the service’s cost estimates for the Long Range Strike Bomber program. Last year, the Air Force estimated costs for the LRS-B from fiscal years 2015 to 2024 at $33.1 billion. This year, the service pegged costs for FY 2016 to FY 2025, a similar 10-year period, at $58.2 billion.
The Air Force has since said the true cost estimate for both 10-year periods should be $41.7 billion, and blamed the inaccurate reports primarily on human error.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the committee, and Jack Reed, D-R.I., the ranking member, slammed the Air Force for the mistake in a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter last week. Errors of this magnitude are “simply unacceptable,” and the senators wrote.