- Project fits cost-cutting mood
- Boeing to be the prime contractor
The U.S. Air Force is planning its Long-Range Strike Bomber as the foundational aircraft, capable of delivering conventional or nuclear weapons, with stealth capability – and the possibility of operating as an unmanned aircraft.
Rivals Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. are planning to prepare a joint bid for the U.S. Air Force's Long-Range Strike Bomber program, a project to build a new family of bombers with fighter jet characteristics drawn from planes like the F-35 and F-22.
In their announcement, the two OEMs stated that Boeing would act as the prime contractor in their effort, with Lockheed Martin as its primary teammate. The U.S. Air Force currently projects a delivery date in the mid 2020s.
The value of the eventual contract to be placed is not know, but the Air Force has said it may build up to 100 of the new bombers, and reports estimate the cost of one at $550 million.
The partnership of Boeing and Lockheed reflects the cost-trimming atmosphere prevailing in the U.S. Department of Defense, and the major defense manufacturers’ determination to maintain their range of capabilities for work on major supply programs. It may be assumed that the Defense Dept. has endorsed the idea of the two OEMs preparing a joint bid.
The project also suggest narrowing defense spending by focusing on strategic weapons, including. Along with thee F-35 fighter and the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker, the long-range bomber is seen as a combination of foundation of future weapons systems, able to deliver nuclear or conventional weapons, with stealth capability and possibly the ability to operate as an unmanned aircraft.
Boeing and Lockheed highlighted their combined experience designing, developing and testing aircraft for defense customers worldwide, their expertise integrating technologies, and the capabilities represented by their workers and infrastructure.
"Boeing and Lockheed Martin are bringing together the best of the two enterprises, and the rest of industry, in support of the Long-Range Strike Bomber program, and we are honored to support our U.S. Air Force customer and this important national priority," stated Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.
In separate joint projects, the two companies are developing the KC-46 and F-35 Lightning II.
Boeing and Lockheed also were teamed to develop on the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.
Their individual bomber and fighter jet accomplishments (e.g., the B-1B bomber, the F-15E, F-117, and F-16 fighters) also demonstrate their expertise in the field.
"Building on decades of manned and unmanned weapon systems experience, we're proud to bring our collection of technologies, capabilities and resources to affordably design, develop, produce and sustain the bomber program," stated Lockheed Martin Aeronautics exec. vice president Orlando Carvalho.
"We're confident that our team will meet the well-defined system requirements and deliver a world-class next generation Long-Range Strike Bomber to the U.S. Air Force within the budget and timeframe required," Carvalho said.