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Sen. John McCain questions Air Force bomber spending in Trump budget

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PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) questioned Tuesday the Air Force’s spending on a new bomber under a budget proposed by President Donald Trump.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, McCain butted heads with Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson over the B-21 bomber program, which is shrouded in secrecy.

“It’s understandable to keep the B-21 specific warfighting capabilities classified, but it’s difficult to understand why you should keep other aspects of the program under the veil of secrecy,” McCain said.

“Don’t the American people deserve to understand more about what their dollars are being spent [on], such as $2 billion in [research and development] money requested in this year’s budget?”

Wilson said the Air Force has been open with the appropriate committees on where the military branch is spending its money, but McCain disagreed.

“That is not true, Madam Secretary. That is simply not true,” he said. “The American people need to know if we’re going to spend $2 billion – on what?”

Despite his hardline questioning of Wilson, McCain expressed his support for the B-21 program in his opening statement.

“The B-21 will provide a much needed modernization of our aging bomber force,” he said.

The B-21 is a new bomber being developed by Nothrop Grumman. Nicknamed the Raider, it would replace the B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress in the U.S. arsenal by 2025.

The aircraft are estimated to cost about $550 million each.

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