Oct 24, 2015
USAF ‘Really, Really Close’ To Bomber Contract Award
Industry is still holding its breath for the contract announcement, which could come anytime in the next few weeks. The upcoming award pits three giants in the aerospace world against each other: Northrop Grumman, builder of the B-2 stealth bomber, is competing against a joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin team for the project.
Although the Air Force has repeatedly postponed the contract award, the program has not been delayed. Leadership is committed to making sure the source selection process is done right, he said.
The Air Force plans to buy 80 to 100 Long Range Strike Bombers to replace its aging B-52s and B-1s, which the service plans to retire in the mid-2040s. The target price is $550 million a copy in 2010 dollars. That unit cost is a key performance parameter for the program, meaning that a company can be disqualified if its price fails to reach that goal.
When the contract is awarded, it will come in two parts — a development contract that is cost-plus incentive fee, and an agreement on the first five low-rate initial production lots that is fixed-price incentive fee. Those first five lots will cover the production of 21 bombers.
LRSB is unusually mature for a program at this stage in its development, according to Lt. Gen. Arnie Bunch, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition. The program has completed preliminary design review and manufacturing readiness review, and the platform designs are “at the subsystem level,” he said during the briefing.
The teams have already built component prototypes and scale models of the designs for testing