The Pentagon's Flying Edsel

Even at $283 million a plane, the B-1B bomber has problems

From its conception in the late 1960s, the B-1B bomber has been a child of controversy. A breathtakingly beautiful airplane with slim-silhouette wings that meld into a fuselage that breathes speed, the swanlike aircraft is designed to penetrate Soviet air defenses, unleashing nuclear-tipped missiles at targets deep inside the country. But skeptics lampooned the B-1B -- at $283 million a copy the most expensive plane in aviation history -- as an unnecessary and probably unworkable interim successor to the aging B-52s, and in 1977 President Jimmy Carter scuttled the project. Newly elected Ronald Reagan revived the B-1B in 1981, ordering 100...

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