Pratt & Whitney has officially secured a contract to build engines for the US Air Force’s (USAF) long-range strike bomber (LRS-B), designated the B-21.

In October 2015, the USAF awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman for the production of LRS-B, in a bid to replace the air force’s aging fleet of bombers.

The move is a part of USAF’s efforts to modernise aircraft to provide warfighters with enhanced capabilities.

Currently in its engineering and manufacturing development phase (EMD), the programme aims at developing a new long-range, highly survivable bomber capable of penetrating and operating in the future anti-access, area denial environment.

According to the USAF, the independent estimate for the EMD phase is $21.4bn in 2010 dollars.

The second phase of the contract features options for the first five production lots that include 21 aircraft out of the total fleet of 100.

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"The company has made significant investment in research and development to mature critical technologies applicable to the B-21 platform."

The APUC from the independent estimate supporting the award is $511m per aircraft, again in 2010 dollars.

The company said in a statement published on its website: "The company has made significant investment in research and development to mature critical technologies applicable to the B-21 platform.

"Combining this investment with our fielded fifth generation experience with F119 and F135 engines, Pratt & Whitney is technology-ready for the B-21 development programme.

"We are prepared to work with Northrop Grumman to develop and field a B-21 weapon system that fulfils Air Force mission requirements."

Image: The first rendition of B-21 Bomber. Photo: US Air Force.