The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman for the production of new long-range strike bomber (LRS-B), in a bid to replace the air force’s aging fleet of bombers.
The new long-range, highly survivable bomber will be capable of penetrating and operating in the future anti-access, area denial environment, with its capability to strike any target, any time around the globe.
Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James said: "The LRS-B is critical to national defence and is a top priority for the Air Force.
"We face a complex security environment.
"It’s imperative our Air Force invests in the right people, technology, capability and training to defend the nation and its interests, at an affordable cost."
The engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the contract is a cost-reimbursable type contract with cost and performance incentives, which will reduce the contractor’s profit if they do not control cost and schedule appropriately.
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.
The APUC from the independent estimate supporting the award is $511m per aircraft, again in 2010 dollars.
Northrop Grumman chairman, CEO and president Wes Bush said: "The Air Force has made the right decision for our nation’s security.
"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."
The new system will have an open architecture that will allow integration of new technology and timely response to future threats across the full range of military operations.
Moreover, this open architecture will offer the opportunity to retain competition across the lifecycle of the programme.
Image: A US Air Force B-2 Spirit flying over the Pacific Ocean. Photo: courtesy of Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III.