The Air Force says it intends to go ahead with plans to build all 75 B-2 "stealth" bombers approved by Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney.
"The B-2 continues to enjoy the confidence of the Air Force and remains its highest priority. We are strongly committed to pursuing the full production run of 75 aircraft approved by the secretary of defense," the Air Force said in a statement Monday.
The comment came in response to a Wall Street Journal report that the service was dropping plans to build more B-2 bombers and would use the 1991 money provided by Congress for planes already authorized for production.
Congress has approved building 15 of the planned 75 planes that are configured and constructed of materials to make them nearly invisible to enemy radar.
In approving $4.1 billion for the B-2 program in fiscal 1991, Congress did not specify how the money was to be used. The Senate interpreted the spending bill as authorizing more planes, but the House said the money was intended only for the production cost of the 15 planes already approved.
Northrop Corp. is the prime contractor for the planes, which cost about $850 million each.
The newspaper report said Air Force Secretary Donald B. Rice had decided to accept the House position and that Cheney was expected to approve the decision to scale down production.
The Air Force statement called the newspaper's report "misleading" because it suggested a change in the service's support for the B-2.
The Air Force said it is trying to resolve the differing Senate and House language.