Feb 19, 2015

Competition heats up for USAF next-gen Air Force bomber contract

Plans for the next-generation bomber, one of the top acquisition priorities for the Air Force, remain largely hidden from the public, but the major contractors vying for the program have been throwing punches at each other in their limited open discussions on the project.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing are combining forces to vie for the contract, which is expected to be announced this spring. The two giants of the defense industry are going against Northrop Grumman, the company that produced the Air Force's current stealth bomber, the B-2 Spirit.
Northrop, has repeatedly stated its experience in building the Air Force's B-2 will translate directly into building the next-generation version. The company's facilities in California produced the jet, and still sustain it.
The Air Force last summer released the requirements to industry, but has been quiet on what those requirements are. However, the bomber is expected to be stealthy and capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The ability of the jet to fly without a pilot on board has been discussed, but an unmanned capability would likely not be a requirement at the outset, but could be a possibility as the project advances.
The service is targeting a production line of 80 to 100 planes by 2040 to replace its fleet of B-52 and B-1 bombers, with some B-2s still flying.
The service has a target budget figure of about $500 million per aircraft.

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