The A-12 Avenger II was an American aircraft program, designed by McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics.
It was intended to be an all-weather, carrier-based stealth bomber replacement for the A-6 Intruder in the United States Navy and Marines. However, due to extremely high costs, the A-12 Avenger II program was cut.
The aircraft was designed to have two General Electric F412-GE-D5F2 turbofans, each producing about 13,000 lbf (58 kN) thrust, and was equipped to carry up to two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, two AGM-88 HARMs and a full complement of air-to-ground ordnance, including Mk 82 bombs, or smart bombs, in an internal weapons bay. The A-12 gained the nickname “Flying Dorito”.
The aircraft suffered numerous problems throughout its development, especially with the materials, and when the projected cost of each aircraft ballooned to an estimated US$165 million, the project was canceled by then-Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, in January 1991.
In recently declassified government documents, light is shed on exactly why the program was cancelled:
On January 7 199 1, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney terminated a $18 billion contract for the A- 12 Avenger II Aircraft, the Navy’s top aviation priority. At that time, the aircraft was at least $1 billion over budget, 8,000 pounds overweight, and 18 months behind schedule. Nearly $3 billion had been spent on the program and not one aircraft was ever built. Originally projected to cost $57 billion for 620 aircraft, the A-12 was the largest weapons contract cancellation in the history of the Pentagon.