Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, whose duties include overseeing big-ticket acquisition programs, attended a recent “deep dive” briefing on the Air Force’s B-21 Raider to better familiarize himself with the bomber development effort, a service official said April 9.
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said that he and prime contractor Northrop Grumman [NOC] also took part in the one-day event.
“Secretary Shanahan wanted to go out and get an immersion in that, and that’s what we did,” Wilson said at New America’s Future of War Conference.
The Air Force and the Department of Defense provided no further details about the deep dive. Northrop Grumman referred questions to the Air Force.
The Air Force awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman in October 2015 to develop and begin building the B-21. The secretive program completed a preliminary design review in early 2017 and will undergo its next major design review in fiscal year 2019.
“It’s coming along very well, we think,” Wilson said.
The Air Force’s FY 2019 budget request seeks $2.3 billion for the stealth bomber, up from $2 billion in FY 2018. The Air Force plans to buy at least 100 B-21s and begin fielding them in the mid-2020s to replace the B-1 and B-2.