House kills Rep. Welch amendment to strip $297 million for Air Force bomber program

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The Air Force requested $197 million for the bomber program. Panel leaders tacked on an extra $100 million after talks with Air Force and executives from the firms expected to seek the prime contractor's role led them to believe “we might be able to accelerate” the program’s schedule with the additional funding, House Appropriations Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said.

Welch argued that while R&D for a new fleet of bombers might be “desirable,” the nation’s fiscal standing means lawmakers should be asking whether “it is affordable.”

After several failed attempts, the Air Force appears to have finally gotten its next-generation bomber program off the ground.

As first reported by The Hill, Pentagon officials have cleared a service plan to buy between 80 and 100 new bombers that would enter the operational fleet by the mid-2020s.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are expected to compete for what will be a lucrative contract to design, develop and build the new bombers.

This story was originally posted at 4:55 and has been updated.