Air Force Plans Bomber Contract for September

Next Gen BomberThe Air Force plans to announce a contract award for their new stealthy long-range bomber aircraft in September of this year, service officials told Military.com.

The contract award for the aircraft was initially expected to arrive earlier this summer. In fact, this new timeline comes on the heels of a series of delays for the award.

The new Long Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B, is slated to fly alongside and ultimately replace the existing B-2 bomber.

Senior Air Force officials told Military.com that taking extra time at the front end of the process to make sure the selection is the right one will ultimately save much more time and money throughout the longer-term acquisition process. The service plans to field the new bomber by the mid-2020s.

“It will be done when [the contract award is] done. It is fair to say we are in the closing parts of it. This is something that will be with us for 50 years. To build fast, you’ve got to go slow,” William LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Acquisition, said at recent event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

The Air Force ultimately plans to acquire as many as 80 to 100 new bombers for a price of roughly $550 million per plane, Air Force leaders have said.

Over the last two to three years, the Air Force has worked closely with defense companies as part of a classified research and technology phase. So far, the service has made a $1 billion technology investment in the bomber.

Northrop Grumman is competing against a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the rights to build the bomber. Northrop Grumman ran a regional Super Bowl ad pitching the company’s experience building Air Force bombers.

The new LRS-B is slated to replace the Air Force’s bomber fleet to include the B-2 stealth bombers.

Although much of the details of the LRS-B development are not publically available, Air Force leaders have said the aircraft will likely be engineered to fly unmanned missions as well as manned missions.

The new aircraft will be designed to have global reach, in part by incorporating a large arsenal of long-range weapons. The LRS-B is being engineered to carry existing weapons as well as nuclear bombs and emerging and future weapons, Air Force officials explained.

In particular, the aircraft is being engineered to evade increasingly sophisticated air defenses which now use faster processors and sensors to track even stealthy aircraft at longer ranges.

— Kris Osborn can be reached at kris.osborn@military.com

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • changey

    Great story!

  • mafigueroa

    will it be able to evade SAM 600’s

    • Lancelot

      yes we can!

      USA #1

      • Gallahad

        It is their duty as pilots to sample as much peril as the can

        • Robin

          Are they African or European SAMs?

  • King Arthur

    God Bless America!

    USA #1 Always and Forever!

    Enjoy!

    ❤USA❤

    • German Y.

      Some day when you realize that weapons cannot be eaten there might be hope. No money for healthcare; no money for a fast deteriorating infrastructure; no money for research on fields where once we enjoyed practical dominance; no money for higher education. No money to replace more than a trillion dollars that have been taken from the Social Security and Medicare funds (money that was taken out of every paycheck of every working American), etc. Yet, people like you believe that restoring the “greatness”of the US is more weaponry. Stupid fools.

      • JIM

        AMERICA SHOULD HAVE GERMANY…..AND JAPAN PAY US BACK FOR SEVENTY YEARS OF DEFENSE AND INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT. THAT WOULD END UP IN THE TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS. THEN WE CAN BUILD AIRPLANES THAT CAN REPLACE 60 YEAR OLD BOMBERS WE STILL HAVE TO FLY!

        • Rocky

          Jim, Japan has spent billions of dollars on infrastructure support for USAF bases in Japan including Okinawa. Everything from chapels, family base housing, dependent schools, movie theaters to aircraft maintenance facilities. They have done this for decades.

        • blight_

          America thoroughly picked Germany clean of its weapons and scientists after WW2, and so did the Soviets. Then it destroyed German industry as part of the opening steps of the Morgenthau plan, which exacerbated food problems and undoubtedly led to the death of German civilians, which as a occupying force we were responsible for. Then there’s the use of Germans for mineclearing, and for the French, as corvee labor in places as far away as Vietnam. The Soviets also took Germans to Siberia, and a good number of them died. How much more “PAY US BACK” do you want?

      • citanon

        Last time I checked:
        US GDP per capita PPP: $53041.98
        German GDP per capita PPP: $46268.64

        Projected date when the average German will be better off than the average American: Never.
        Duration of time Germany has depended on US for her national security: 70 years and counting.

        Nice try, well played. Come back and try again when you get off socialism.

        • guest

          ADD UK to their defense, but remember they buy aircraft from both countries.

        • blight_

          I’d be curious to see their wealth distribution histograms compared to ours. They also have to deal with East Germany, which is still somewhat behind decades after reunification. But in the states we have our own stubbornly poor areas (Indian reservations, appalachia, deep south…)

          • citanon

            There’s also our inner cities.

            The US has a pretty heterogeneous distribution of economic and social situations to an extent not matched by other countries.

            For example, people often point to low US test scores in math and science. What they don’t realize is that our test scores are bimodal. If you take away our rural and inner city areas, we actually near the top.

            Then there’s our economic and wage growth. If you look at the overall figures they are pretty anemic. Our GDP growth is a tad better than Europe but wage growth is rather sad. But then you pull apart the numbers and you realize that certain parts of the us, eg, Silicon Valley, have been on the greatest spurt of wealth creation in the history of man while other areas have been falling deeper into malaise.

            Clearly we’ve got work to do. On the other hand the Americans are stupid, sky is falling crowd are just ignant.

          • John Deere

            Silicon Valley was built by Government investment in military R&D.

      • Rocky

        Paranoia and lunacy are dangerous.

      • galloglas

        Yup, and food won’t stop the Russian’s from taking your nation back to the stone age. Or just taking it.
        Throw a pretzel next time you need a weapon.

      • blight_

        So without a bomber Muslims can fly their own bomber to New Your City (?)

        Trying to decide if you are attempt to point the finger at Pakistan (which does have nukes) or Iran (which is working on uranium reprocessing), while simultaneously making it sound like all Muslims are part of a global conspiracy.

        Seems like Jews are the global conspiracy of the 1st century-20th century, and then Muslims for the 21st?

      • UAVgeek

        You know why we have a greater disparity of wealth compared to Germany?

        Because we actually count the people who are not white and Christian as citizens and members of society.

        You’re not fooling anyone.

  • gordon

    wonder how much this ones going to cost us!…

    • Paul

      Well, most weapons systems end up costing about 40% more than forecast, if that holds true this will come in at about $775 million per plane.

  • truth_is_honor

    The only thing that will restore the US to “greatness” is to repent of our sin and turn to God for forgiveness. We have been pushing Him out of our lives and consciousness for years, now we are turning on His chosen nation, Israel. Like our current “leadership”? See Romans 13:1. We get what we ask for.

    • blight_

      I’m sure our Muslim enemies can point to a similar verse somewhere in the Koran. Let the fight begin!

    • spartan

      I thought every major thing the US government has done in the past 20-50 years have been in the name of God - the inhumane sanctions on Iraq and subsequent illegal invasion, war in Afghanistan, Libya, … Vietnam, Korea.

      The neo-cons behind most of these all claim to be Christians who work under the guidance of God.

    • UAVgeek

      Religious zealotry has no place in government or the political sphere in the 21st century. Back to the dark ages, you!

  • Mike Slate

    After the F-35 debacle for all but the USMC version, DoD appears well aware of the public’s view on how that weapons system was procured. In re German Y.’s comment, sadly, we may not be able to pay for any future aircraft if we do not get our fiscal house in order. We are rapidly approaching the point where our tax receipts will be insufficient to pay the interest on our national debt at which time China, Japan, and I think the other is Saudi Arabia (our biggest creditors) will no longer buy our bonds! Sounds like, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” And why is this? Look at all the taxes that too many big corporations previously paid but have not in five years or more. Look at the wasteful spending. Our budgets are wildly out of balance. We need both more national revenue and less spending if we are going to avoid a financial melt down. Yes, we need weapons to defend ourselves but if we have nothing to defend, then what?

    • Dick Pilz

      Actually, China is number three, after Social Security and Medicare. All foreign-held debt is about one-third. The rest we owe to ourselves and our progeny.

    • citanon

      first of all, we are not going to be running out of money for a long long time. if we are in danger of running out, then we are the least in risky country in that regard in the world today. the fact that international buyers still flock to our currency and t-bills in times of crisis proves that the international credit markets agree with me.

      secondly, the category of spending that truly threatens our economy is spending on social welfare. that is both the largest component of our nondescretionary spending and politically self reinforcing monster that cannot be controlled.

      thirdly, whereas welfare spending is dissipative, defense spending overall is massively profitable and stimulatory. a great fraction of the economic growth from the last 70 years has come from technologies that have been invented by or incubated by the defense industrial complex. everything from optical fibers, wireless communications, the Internet itself, to carbon fiber. for the US in particular, defense spending has been very very profitable.

      if you look at the single country in the world today that is most focused in economic growth and prosperity, china, its adding double digit growth to defense budget every year. why? partly to get what the military industrial complex does for our country.

  • Highguard

    OK, thinks have deteriorated since I last posted. Listen up as follows:

    In reverse order, Truth is Honor, Prov 3:5 is a better verse to capture people’s attention. Now that I’ve got your attention, read all the letters of Paul that explain you are supposed to actually relate to the people you are trying to evangelize. Nothing I see in your posting accomplishes that in the slightest. This is a website for military buffs and groupies. You’re pushing them away from God by blogging stuff that should be on political buff websites. Please find another website to proselatise on.

    • galloglas

      Truth is Honor sounds suspiciously like Blut und Ehre.
      Here’s one to ponder, John 3.8

    • Tom

      And so it seems you have made TIH’s point perfectly; just push out any reference to God to some other place. You are right in that this is a site for military buffs and groupies, but I imagine if someone posted something about the economy or some other unrelated topic the advice would not be to go post somewhere else. Only references to God and truth get the boot. You don’t need to build a relationship with someone to present truth; Christ did it often even upon meeting someone for the first time.

  • Highguard

    German Y. This is a website for defense buffs. You took a huge thrashing which you deserved. What are you and your friends doing to stop Russia from crossing into Dresden again? Sticking flowers in rifle barrels. Take your depression elsewhere. We’re trying to have fun here. Plus, we’re too educated for you. Go after the conservative political blogs where you could get into some fun arguments.

    • blight_

      It’s in Germany’s best interest that Poland be able to keep the Russians out…

  • Highguard

    Kris,

    Good article and great that the Air Force officials are telling you things they aren’t telling the rest of DoD. Could you get them to reveal which current conventional LRS weapons they are planning on incorporating into LRS-B? Then maybe we could actually start planning. Also, can you explain in your next article how future weapons can be integrated into a platform going under contract in Sept when those weapons haven’t even been competed or built yet?

  • Rocky

    This looks good for WW3. However, we also need an excellent platform for delivering hundreds of iron bombs. Perhaps something similar to a C-17 as a bomber. BOTOT

    • blight_

      Didn’t realise we were still trying to bomb rice paddies or the Plain of Jars….

    • franklin

      An aircraft with the c17’s capabilities could be built with a low radar cross section rather than full stealth, and carry a huge amount of LRS weapons. This could be done a lot cheaper and produce a much bigger fleet. 550 million a plane is not realistic, and would simple never meet final production costs.Boeing is robotizing it’s assembly lines for economys of scale production. Thats the way to go. Cheap and expendable!

  • PrahaPartizan

    Since it is unlikely that the USAF is actually going to be using a penetration bomber in the future (given those advances in detection and tracking), the actual strikes will be made by the advanced weapons to be carried aboard the bomber. These would include hyper-sonic cruise missiles with extended ranges, something which could reach and touch someone in short order deep inside their territory. This would seem to dictate a bomber with a large capacity for precision weapons with very long loiter times. It’s not going to look anything at all like the B1 or B2, probably more like a stealth-upped version of a 1930s Buck Rogers flying wing.

  • galloglas

    Is it going to be called the B-35B?
    The new Flying Fortress II or the death trap at high speed low drag?
    Here we go again.

  • Guest

    Interesting. You have to wonder who will be our enemies when these weapons are available? There could be a new lineup and new alliances we haven’t thought of in our children’s future.

    • Dfens

      Does it really matter? This will be another 25 year long welfare project that will end in cancellation. Defense contractors will make billions, little bureaucrats will become big bureaucrats, hundreds of billions of your tax dollars will be wasted, and nothing will be produced. Then we’ll do it all over again while idiots post on the internet about how lucky we are to have the B-52, and how stealth sucks. It’s a gravy train that’s going to come to an end, though, one way or another.

  • saul

    please don’t tell me the f-35 will be escorting these bombers lol

  • oblatt23

    The bomber doesn’t have to defeat modern SAM defenses it just has to defeat the American taxpayer.

    Emphasis will be placed on minimum performance and cheapest build when Lockheed ‘wins’ the contract.

  • d. kellogg

    Originally under Carter, initial plans for B-1As suggested, what, about 300 or so aircraft? Cancelled, then rekindled by Reagan but we didn’t even get 200 B-1Bs.
    B-2 production, not even 3 dozen aircraft?
    And so if this to eventually replace the B-2, does this trend suggest we might get all of a dozen and half aircraft under this program?

  • Issachar Almaya

    The somewhat alarming prospect of 60-100 of these undetectable drones with marved nukes or alcm’s piloted by remote personnel in bunkers during a conflict brought-about by a failure of diplomacy and detente pursuant to some escalation of crisis instability….

    The war could last decades and the catastrophic results millennia!!!!

    Of course that’s not to say…nobody does death like we do.

  • Big-D

    It seems to me that the days of massive manned bomber are way past us. “Payload over platforms” I know isn’t sexy and the air force is all about trying to be sexy (doesn’t explain their uniforms though). When ground base radar defense has infinite power and can overwhelm any stealth, the platform much then launch their weapon way out of radar range, perhaps 300 miles out. So, what then is the point of stealth, we certainly are never going to risk a multi billion dollar stealth bomber flying over modern air defenses-that’s suicide. Therefore, the future is long range weapons-not platforms, so what’s the point of a new multi billion dollar manned stealth bomber?

    • Dfens

      So have you ever paused your crusade of ignorance long enough to figure how how much not-stealth would cost? The Eurofighter is as expensive as the stealthy F-22. Has it ever dawned on you that perhaps the materials and manufacturing processes drive the cost of modern aircraft and not stealth? All airplanes need to have a shape. It astounds me that you think a stealth shape would somehow cost more. Why don’t you learn about how airplanes are made before you start on these rants about problems that don’t exist or solutions that benefit only those who you claim to be against?

      • blight_

        There’s this theory that composites and RCS formulations are so expensive that they make development of stealth aircraft astronomically expensive. They probably cost a little more to maintain smooth surfaces to reduce cross section, but that’s a lifetime maintenance cost and not a up-front research and development cost.

        When they make the Block 80 F-16 with EOTAS and all the F-35 trinkets built in, we can compare flyaway cost with the F-35. What will be funny is if the flyaway of both aircraft (without R&D costs) are almost the same…

        • Dfens

          The reality is that stealth airplanes don’t need composites. All they “need” is the stealthy shape.

          • blight_

            That is what the equations suggest. I am curious if anyone’s done a calculation to determine the contributions of shape and materials respectively to stealth. If contributions are mostly shape, then it suggests reduction of radar cross section can be incorporated into future aircraft design as part of the usual tradeoffs. While it won’t be as good as climate-controlled aircraft with appropriate materials with smoothed surfaces to minimize reflections, but it’ll hopefully be lower in cost and easier to roll out, support and replace.

  • Mike Stonebridge

    Get your extra cash ready to buy the stock of the winners (LMT/BA or NOC).

    They should forget this idea and deliver the original Star Wars program…orbital strike units that can hit anywhere on earth in a matter of seconds.

  • Guest

    Hehehehe. How many more decades will the B52 be flying? 3-4 generations of pilots have flown them. When will those be replaced by something flying for nearly 90 years?

  • amauyong

    i wonder who will be the first to put forth a drone bomber….without organices breathing air or subject to G forces etc….a drone bomber can do much more…carry more pay load, fly faster, go further/lower/higher and hit harder.

    • Big Al

      If you look at the illustration, you will see that it is an unmaned bomber (aka drone)

      • Dfens

        The picture is a drone, not a bomber.

        • blight_

          Defensetech is built on stock images.

    • blight_

      Bear in mind that engineering hardware to higher G forces will impose its own engineering costs. Tempting to make something more maneuverable but it comes at a price.

      Sure, you can eliminate OBOGS/oxygen tanks, the gold-impregnated canopy (to reduce reflections) and the cockpit, but you’ll end up replacing it with teleoperation gear. On paper should come out ahead in weight, but not by much.