USAF Releases RFP for New Big Bomber

Farnborough Air Show » 2014
July 17, 2014, 12:25 AM

The U.S. Air Force announced that it released a request for proposals (RFP) to industry on July 9 for its new Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program to develop the next generation heavy bomber. The service said it expects to make a contract award next spring.

Detailed requirements for the bomber are classified and in a press release the Air Force described the platform in generalities. It nevertheless designated the LRS-B as a top priority, along with the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and KC-46A tanker.

“The new bomber will be a long-range, air-refuelable, highly survivable aircraft with significant nuclear and conventional stand-off and direct-attack weapons payload,” the service said. “The LRS-B will provide operational flexibility across a wide range of military operations.”

The Air Force plans to purchase 80 to 100 LRS-B aircraft, with a targeted average procurement cost of $550 million per unit. It aims to declare initial capability of the bomber in the mid-2020s.

The new platform would replace the service’s 75 B-52 Stratofortress and 63 B-1B Lancer bombers. (The USAF fleet of 20 B-2 stealth bombers has a service life goal to 2058.) Northrop Grumman and the team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin have made known their intentions to seek the LRS-B contract.

In a report earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said the Air Force may have already spent a substantial amount on developing the LRS-B, which would help explain service’s expectation of reaching initial operational capability of the bomber in the next decade.

The projected LRS-B budget in the Pentagon’s Future Years Defense Program rises from $258.7 million in FY2013 to $3.4 billion in FY2019, a spending level that suggests a production rather than a development program. The funding stream “may indicate that significant LRS-B development has already been completed, presumably in classified budgets,” the CRS said. Last September, a former deputy assistant of the Air Force for acquisition revealed that the service had issued contracts for risk-reduction work.

Assuming there has been considerable prior development, “the Air Force will be challenged to construct a truly competitive RFP,” the CRS said. In a statement announcing the RFP’s release, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, “We have established an achievable and stable set of requirements that should make this capability a hallmark for the future. We’ve set a realistic target cost for the system and have a procurement strategy which allows us to affordably field a new bomber fleet.”

FILED UNDER: 
Share this...

Please Register

In order to leave comments you will now need to be a registered user. This change in policy is to protect our site from an increased number of spam comments. Additionally, in the near future you will be able to better manage your AIN subscriptions via this registration system. If you already have an account, click here to log in. Otherwise, click here to register.

 
X