The US Air Force (USAF) has selected Northrop Grumman Corp. (NGC) – instead of a Lockheed Martin-Boeing consortium – to build its next-generation long range strike bomber (LRS-B). The $80 billion project will provide the USAF with a fully-connected aircraft capable of flying without a pilot aboard.
NGC, which has been the maker of the B-2 stealth bomber for 35 years, said the USAF’s choice made America win. “The Air Force has made the right decision for our nation’s security,” said Wes Bush, NGC chairman, chief executive officer and president. “Our team has the resources in place to execute this important program, and we’re ready to get to work,” Bush added.
The LRS-B contract will provide the USAF with a total of 100 stealth bombers– compared with 20 currently in service – for a cost of $550 million per aircraft in 2010 USD. According to Cyceon director Charles Rault, the LRS-B program will potentially give “America unrivaled strategic superiority – even by China – for three to four decades.” It will also raise an ethical question as for “the remote piloting of a strategic bomber,” Rault added.