Northrop Grumman To Build The Next Generation Of Stealth Bomber For America – Why Was Boeing And Lockheed Martin Team Turned Down?

Northrop Grumman will build the next generation stealth bomber for America. The Air Force confirmed it had chosen the company that originally built the B-2 stealth bomber to replace America’s aging bomber fleet.

The contract to build the next-generation of stealth bomber, referred to as the Long Range Strike Bomber, has been awarded to Northrop Grumman. The $80 billion contract had a team formed by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. gunning for it, but the Pentagon decided to go with the company that built the first generation of bombers that have more than proved their worth in the various battles America has fought over several decades. Speaking about the same, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said,

“The new long-range bomber will have the ability to launch from the U.S. and strike any target around the globe to counter advancements in air defense systems by rival nations and emerging threats posed by potential adversaries.”

The new age stealth bomber Northrop Grumman has been tasked to design and build will have advanced communications, reconnaissance and flight capabilities. Though the exact specifications are under wraps and many more will be added as the designs evolve, the bomber may have autonomous flying capabilities too, reported CNN. The advanced warplane is expected to fly in all weather conditions and could carry conventional as well as nuclear weapons, hinted Defense Secretary Ashton Carter,

“The age of our bomber fleet requires new thinking and new capabilities. Building this bomber is a strategic investment for the next 50 years.”

The Pentagon confirmed that the new bomber is an important step in America’s broader plan to modernize the entire nuclear force. The long-term plan involves modernizing long-range submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles and of course, long-range bombers. To ensure America’s arsenal and military capabilities are ahead of its enemies, the Congressional Budget Office expects expenditure of about $348 billion in the next 10 years. Considering even longer-term development, America could splurge about $1 trillion over the next 30 years, reported Fox News.

Northrop Grumman To Build The Next Generation Of Stealth Bomber For America
(Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images)

Realistically speaking, America desperately needs new bombers for its Air Force. This is because the oldest ones in its fleet – the venerable B-52s – have far exceeded their expected service life. Even the newest B-2 stealth bombers, made by Northrop Grumman, have been in service for more than 20 years. Incidentally, a second generation bomber, named B-1 is restricted for conventional strikes only. Though the Air Force hasn’t confirmed what it would call the new bomber, many assume it would likely follow the naming convention of its predecessors and be called B-3.

The new stealth bombers being developed by Northrop Grumman are expected to cost about $564 million each. Though the Air Force has agreed to procure about 100 of the next generation planes, the Northrop Grumman contract awarded Tuesday is for an initial set of 21 planes only. The company has been additionally paid about $23.5 billion to cover the engineering and development costs.

The Pentagon won’t share the specification, but the new generation of stealth bombers could be expected to be versatile and sent on a variety of missions. Their purpose could far exceed merely dropping bombs from a high altitude.

It is not clear why Northrop Grumman was picked over a team formed by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. While Boeing has built many stealth bombers, including the much-acclaimed B-52; in association with Lockheed Martin, the duo developed the F-22 stealth fighter, or the Raptor, which is unmatched in its stealth capabilities. Perhaps the proven track record of building the B-2 bombers, that are currently being used, might have prompted the Pentagon to go with Northrop Grumman.

While awarding the contract, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff said,

“We have committed to the American people to provide security in the skies, balanced by our responsibility to affordably use taxpayer dollars in doing so.”

His comments seem to indicate that Northrop Grumman might have submitted a bid that was acceptable from a financial as well as technical perspective.

[Photo by Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images]

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