A FLYING BOONDOGGLE

THE MANUFACTURER OFFERS 20 MORE STEALTH BOMBERS AT BARGAIN PRICES. DOES THE AIR FORCE REALLY NEED THEM?

The Pentagon once said it needed only 20 B-2s. ``With 20, I can sustain bomber operations over an extended period of time,'' General John Loh, head of the Air Combat Command, told Congress three years ago. Legislators were skeptical, threatening to pay for only 15, but they were eventually convinced. Today, however, B-2 advocates in the defense industry, on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon are lobbying for 20 more of the Stealth bombers. Seven former Defense Secretaries have urged President Clinton to buy more B- 2s because, they wrote in a Jan. 4 letter, ``the end of the cold war...

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