09:56 GMT13 April 2021
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    John McCain said that the US Air Force is failing to serve the public by not disclosing the cost to taxpayers of the B-21 next-generation strategic bomber.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Air Force is failing to serve the public by not disclosing the cost to taxpayers of the B-21 next-generation strategic bomber, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain said during a hearing with Air Force officers.

    "You are not serving the nation or the taxpayer if they don’t know how much of their taxpayer dollars are being spent," McCain stated during a heated exchange with the Assistant Secretary of Air Force Acquisitions Lt. General Arnold Bunch on Tuesday.

    The total cost of the B-21 strategic bomber remains classified, though independent cost estimates and service dispositions have been released publicly.

    According to published per unit estimates, the B-21 bomber will cost upwards of $500 million per airplane, and the Department of Defense plans to buy up to 100 of the new aircraft.

    Bunch defended the multi-billion dollar program, arguing that by keeping the costs classified the Air Force was trying to "protect the critical capabilities" of the B-21 bomber and prevent individuals from making a "link" between unclassified pieces of the program.

    "[Taxpayers] shouldn’t know how the dollars they’re paying are being spent because somebody might connect the dots?" McCain asked, summarizing Bunch’s argument.

    In recent weeks, McCain threatened to block the B-21 program because it uses a procurement model allowing contractors to pass on unexpected program costs to the government and taxpayers.


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