The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation announced they are teaming again to compete for the United States Air Force’s (USAF) Long-Range Strike – Bomber (LRS-B) program, with Boeing acting as the prime contractor and Lockheed Martin as the primary teammate. The program is aimed at delivering 80-100 very stealthy, long-range bombers to the Air Force, with an initial operational capability in 2024-26, and with a unit cost ceiling of $550 million. In addition to the manned bomber capability the Long Range Strike (LRS) family of systems will also combined with other long endurance unmanned platforms and cruise missiles [ismember](read more on that capability in Aviation Week)[/ismember].
The two companies have teamed in 2008 to develop the ‘Next Generation Bomber’ program, but that team dissolved upon the program termination in 2010. The two companies have also partnered in the past on the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, where Lockheed Martin was the prime and Boeing the primary team mate.
The Long Range Strike Bomber is one of USAF three top priorities programs. The other two are the F-35 produced by Lockheed martin and KC-46 flying tanker built by Boeing. Winning the bomber program would secure the two companies dominant position for decades. The team will compete against Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, also believed to be a prime contractor developing a secret stealth aircraft under another black program.
“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,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “Stable planning, along with efficient and affordable development and production approaches, enables our team to reduce development risk by leveraging mature technologies and integrating existing systems.”
The team brings together nearly two centuries of combined experience designing, developing and testing aircraft for defense customers around the world. The companies also bring expertise in integrating proven technologies, and their skilled workforces and critical infrastructure and scale, to meet the U.S. Air Force’s cost and schedule requirements. According to the joint announcement, the combined team will be able to produce unique and affordable solutions that could not be achieved without partnering.
“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,” said Orlando Carvalho, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “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.”