Northrop Grumman to build new US bomber

Northrop Grumman has been selected to develop and build the new long range strike bomber for the US Air Force under the LRS-B program. The company beat joint competitors Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The decision was made public during a briefing in Washington DC on Tuesday 27 October.

The LRS-B program is thought to be one of the biggest defense programs over the next decades, with value estimates over 80 billion USD. The program was started in 2009 and a request for proposal was issued to contenders in 2014. The announcement of the winner was on the cards for several months already.

The US Air Force says it needs 80 to 100 new longe range bombers to replace B-1 Lancers and B-2 Stealth bombers. The first contract should be for 21 aircraft. Initital operational capability (IOC) is to be reached in 2025 and the new design should see service for fifty years at least. Unit price is an estimated 560 million USD.

Northrop Grumman is the same company that developed the B-2, the type that ended up costing about 2 billion USD a piece after the order was cut to just 20 planes in the nineties. There should at least be some doubt about the unit price for the LRS-B.

Northrop Grumman nevertheless says the Air Force has made the right decision. Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman chairman, chief executive officer and president,: “As the company that developed and delivered the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, we look forward to providing the Air Force with a highly-capable and affordable next-generation Long-Range Strike Bomber.

“Our team has the resources in place to execute this important program, and we’re ready to get to work,” Bush added.

B-1B Lancer
he LRS-B will replace the B-1 as well as the B-2. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Lockheed Martin and Boeing express disappointed by the announcement. A statement says:  “We are interested in knowing how the competition was scored in terms of price and risk, as we believe that the combination of Boeing and Lockheed Martin offers unparalleled experience, capability and resources for this critically important recapitalization program.”

The development of the new bomber should be seen as a clear signal to Russia, China and other challenging Washington’s domination of world affairs, that the US still takes its role as the world’s police very seriously.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An LRS-B teaser image released earlier by Northrop Grumman. (Image © Northrop Grumman)