22:51 GMT12 April 2021
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    The US government released a new study on its next-generation long-range bomber program in response to concerns raised about transparency - but the new report is heavily redacted and provides little useful information.

    So little is known about the B-21 Raider program that the Department of Defense (DoD) won’t even reveal how much it costs out of fears that adversaries might learn too much. On November 8, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that a 2015 DoD audit of the program provided only one recommendation, namely to create a centralized platform to track changes to the program.

    The audit, originally having a “secret” classification, said the review was meant to determine if the program was on track to meet a milestone B requirement, but information about what exactly the requirement is was redacted due to security concerns, Insider Defense reports. The audit found that program planning had been “adequate” and that the program management office was “taking steps to develop a cost-effective and efficient acquisition strategy and well-defined requirements.”

    In May, Congress requested the DoD’s inspector general conduct an audit of the B-21 Raider program, Scout Warrior reported. The US Air Force at that point planned to “balance program classification with the transparency we are shooting for to make sure we are not releasing too much or hindering too much information flow,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch said May 15

    Many US lawmakers have been kept in the dark about the details of the program, except that the Pentagon wants the plane to be able to take off from the continental US and be able to strike anywhere in the world without being detected. Mock-ups of the B-21 show a plane that looks similar to the B-2 Spirit, with its “flying wing” configuration.

    Matthew Donovan, a former aide to Senator John McCain who joined him in strongly advocating for the Air Force to reveal cost information about the B-21, flipped his position after taking on the role of US Air Force undersecretary. “It’s funny because [the USAF] knew I was the guy that was always pushing” for releasing more B-21 program info “from the Senate side,” the official said in October.


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