The B-21 Raider is unveiled during a ceremony in Palmdale, Calif., Dec. 2, 2022.

The B-21 Raider is unveiled during a ceremony in Palmdale, Calif., Dec. 2, 2022. (U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force reduced budget projections for its next-generation stealth bomber, Northrop Grumman Corp.’s B-21 Raider, by under $2 billion over the next two fiscal years thanks in part to lower prices negotiated with contractors.

The fiscal 2025 request for the B-21 released last month sought $2.7 billion for procurement of an unspecified number of initial production aircraft. That contrasts with the $4 billion projected last year. The procurement request projection for fiscal 2026 was also lowered by about $600 million to $3.9 billion.

It’s a rare example of successful cost-cutting for the Pentagon, and stands in contrast to Northrop’s Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile that’s under Pentagon review over delays and projections that suggest the program will be 37% more expensive than its earlier $96 billion estimate.

“The procurement budget was adjusted to account for favorable negotiated low rate production prices, as well as supporting budget-year execution needs,” the Air Force said in a statement. “There were no material reductions in program quantities or scope,” it said. The Air Force has yet to disclose how many aircraft are on contract to date.

The procurement funding includes the basic aircraft, or “flyway” costs, support equipment, training, initial spares and engineering change orders, the service said. The B-21 Program office continues to “proactively manage the program baseline for cost, schedule, and performance,” it said.

The B-21 represents the aircraft leg of the US nuclear triad and thus far the Air Force has not disclosed any cost, schedule or performance issues. Last week, the Navy disclosed that first delivery of its new ICBM-carrying submarine in the Columbia-class will be as much as 16 months late.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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