The United States' controversial new B-1 bomber aircraft has been undergoing more trials recently in the wake of increasing opposition to its addition to the country's Air Force.
GV B-1 bomber taking off
LV & MV Aircraft in flight (2 shots)
MV INT Car & CU Radio (2 shots)
GV Cars along motorway
MV PAN Radio man
MV PAN Fuselage of bomber in factory
GV Bomber in factory
MV Men working on parts of aircraft (4 shots)
MV Engineers studying plan
LV & MV Aircraft in flight
MV PAN INT Cockpit
GV Plane in flight (2 shots)
AIR TO AIR SHOWING Undercarriage
GROUND TO AIR Plane passes over and lans (2 shots)
Initials BB/2340 AB/DK/BB/0010
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Background: The United States' controversial new B-1 bomber aircraft has been undergoing more trials recently in the wake of increasing opposition to its addition to the country's Air Force.
A leading Republican in favour of the project is Defence Secretary, Mr. Rumsfeldt. A former navy pilot, he has had first hand experience of the B-1 prototype and took the controls for 50 minutes during a recent flight over the Southern Californian desert.
He reported that it handled very well at both high and low altitudes. But his supersonic flight was seen by many critics as a high pressure sales campaign to win support for the controversial aircraft.
The US Air Force considers the plane a necessity and says it is a new triumph for American ingenuity. Many say it is fast becoming a symbol of U.S. determination to remain strong at a time when the Soviet Union is increasing its military spending.
But the bomber's critics oppose it on two main points. Money and war.
They say the 20 billion dollars it will cost should be spent on more important things. They also believe it will increase the danger of war.
Other opponents say that if the Air Force's present fleet of B-52's needs replacing it could be replaced more cheaply by planes that could launch unmanned missiles.
And recent reports of the aircraft from the General Account Office (GAO) -- which acts as a Congressional "watchdog" on such projects -- has just presented a discouraging report on the B-1. It says there is a severe problem with vibration, a faulty ignition system and engines whose performance fall short of the original specifications.
The GAO has urged the Defence Department to put off any decision about the aircraft until early next year.
But even if the decision to go ahead with the bomber is delayed it is almost certain that it will go ahead. A full house of a senate committee has already voted to start buying the plane and, despite opposition, the Defence Department is determined to have it.
SYNOPSIS: This is the controversial B-1 bomber which many believe is becoming the symbol of America's determination to remain strong at a time when the Soviet Union is increasing its military spending.
The U.S. Air Force wants to buy 244 B-1's like this prototype to replace its fleet of B-52's and says that with them other countries would be more reluctant to test America's strength.
Critics say that spending the 20 billion dollars it will cost for the planes would be wrong when money is urgently needed for more important projects to benefit the nation.
They also say the B-1's could increase the danger of war. But the prime contractors for the project do not agree with these arguments and say as well as strengthening the country's defence the building of the aircraft would provide more jobs.
They are vigorously lobbying to get approval for the B-1 and say it could be produced in 48 states and generate 300,000 jobs.
Others say if the B-52's have to be replaced they should be replaced by cheaper planes that could launch unmanned missiles.
But it seems unlikely that a decision on the fate of the B-1 will be made until at least early next year. That's the recommendation of the General Accounting Office which has been investigating the plane. Its findings indicate there are severe problems with vibration, a faulty ignition system and engines whose performance fall short of the original specifications. But despite that faults observers believe they can be overcome and the plane will go into production.