Military Embedded Systems

Long Range Strike Bomber contract won by Northrop Grumman


October 28, 2015

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

Long Range Strike Bomber contract won by Northrop Grumman

WASHINGTON. U.S. Department of Defense and Air Force officials announced today that Northrop Grumman Corp. won the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) and early production contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber, which Air Force officials say will leverage open architectures in its design.

The LRS-B is to replace the Air Force’s aging fleets of bombers – ranging in age from more than 50 years for the B-52 to more than 17 years for the B-2 – with a long range, highly survivable bomber that can penetrate and operate in tomorrow’s anti-access/area denial (AA/AD) environment. The LRS-B provides the strategic agility to launch from the United States and strike any target, any time around the globe as future threats evolve through the introduction of advanced air defense systems and development of more capable surface to air missile systems.

Air Force officials say the LRS-B is designed to have an open architecture to enable integration of new technology and timely response to future threats across the full range of military operations. This open architecture also provides the opportunity to retain competition across the life cycle of the program, according to an Air Force release on the LRS-B contract award.

“The program acquisition strategy has carefully integrated lessons learned from previous programs and considered all elements of life cycle costs in its design for affordability,” says Dr. William A. LaPlante, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. “We are primed to deliver this capability in the most affordable, efficient way possible.”

“The LRS-B is critical to national defense and is a top priority for the Air Force,” says Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “We face a complex security environment. It’s imperative our Air Force invests in the right people, technology, capability and training to defend the nation and its interests – at an affordable cost.”

“The LRS-B will provide our nation tremendous flexibility as a dual-capable bomber and the strategic agility to respond and adapt faster than our potential adversaries,” says Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “We have committed to the American people to provide security in the skies, balanced by our responsibility to affordably use taxpayer dollars in doing so. This program delivers both while ensuring we are poised to face emerging threats in an uncertain future.”

The Long Range Strike Bomber contract is made up of two parts. The first part, the Engineering and Manufacturing Development, or EMD, phase, is a cost-reimbursable type contract with cost and performance incentives. The incentives minimize the contractor’s profit if they do not control cost and schedule appropriately. The independent estimate for the EMD phase is $21.4 billion in 2010 dollars.

The second part of the LRS-B contract is comprised of options for the first five production lots, consisting of 21 aircraft out of the total fleet of 100. They are fixed price options with incentives for cost. Based on approved requirements, the Average Procurement Unit Cost (APUC) per aircraft is required to be equal to or less than $550 million per aircraft in 2010 dollars when procuring 100 LRS-B aircraft. The APUC from the independent estimate supporting today’s award is $511 million per aircraft, again in 2010 dollars.

Based on current LRS-B independent cost estimates, the Air Force projects the APUC for the program will be approximately a third of the previous B-2 stealth aircraft.

“We believe this is a reasonable and achievable estimate. If we remain disciplined and keep program requirements stable, we should beat this estimate,” LaPlante says.

The Air Force program office conducted design efforts with industry over the last three years to ensure requirements for the aircraft were stable and allowed for the use of mature systems and existing technology while still providing desired capability, according to an Air Force release on the LRS-B contract award.

Basing decisions and future program milestones for the aircraft will take place over the next several years.


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