Stealth bomber having a few problems.
Bombs away By ART BUCHWALD . The Stealth bomber, the top-secret weapon in America's arsenal, is having a few problems. For one thing, Congress is very upset at the cost of the plane. But while the Stealth has its critics, it also has its defenders. One of them is Waldo Capistrano, a defense contractor, who told me, "No matter what it costs, it is still worth it to have a plane that can fly undetected and splat Russian real estate." "How much does it cost?" I asked. "That's even a bigger secret than how it flies. We designed the Stealth bomber so no one would ever find out what the price would be. The Soviets would give their eyeteeth to know how much a Stealth plane costs," he said. "So would Americans. The word on the street is that each plane will price out at more than $600 million." "If I confirmed that, then we could no longer call it a Stealth. The idea of the plane is that no one can see it, hear it or figure out what the price tag is. Six hundred million dollars is not a lot of money for an airplane, when you consider what a Picasso is selling for these days." v "But you can see a Picasso," I said. ;•> ' 'There's is too much talk about money when it comes to a plane like the Stealth..The question we should ask ourselves is: Can it blow the Soviet ; Union to hell and gone and get back home? We believe it can." • "How do you know if you can't see it?" I asked. ''" "Because the Stealth bomber is built by a Stealth contractor and you ^ have to take his word for it. There have been glitches in the bomber, but --not any more than in any plane that is invisible from the ground." 1. "How many Stealth bombers do you believe the U.S. needs?" I asked. "As many as we can build. The more we. have, the larger deterrent against you-know-who." ; ' 'That's a lot of day-care centers. Since the Soviets can't see the Stealth, • why don't we just announce we have built 400 and spend the money on something else? How would the Russkies know?" ;. Capistrano said, "That would be cheating. When it comes to -disarmament, it's not nice to cheat the Russians. The truth is that this country needs the Stealth more than it needs oat bran. Let's say, for r , argument's sake, and I'm not saying this, that the Stealth has an eventual -price tag of a billion dbllars apiece. Who is going to get hurt?" "Will that include all the weapons and electronics?" I asked. . "Who said it would have any weapons on it? I can't tell you what is on it ~ because if I did I would be violating top security. As far as we're "concerned, the only electronics on the plane will be in-flight movies." "I saw the Stealth bomber on television the other night. Was it the real thing, or was it a mock-up to convince the public that you had actually I'built one?" Capistrano said, "It's hard to say. My TV has been on the fritz for a week. I can't seem to find anyone to fix it." "Can we assume that you will be going ahead with building the Stealth ^bomber?" ~ "We have to or our credibility will be questioned. Someday Americans will look up and see the skies filled with Stealth planes, and they'll thank ^ heaven they had insisted on their production." *» "If they're Stealth bombers, how will we know they're flying over us?" "They'll all have red sale tags hanging from their noses." Los Angeles Times Syndicate r™» f .