Northrop Grumman on Tuesday won the Pentagon contract to build a fleet of stealthy planes known as the Long Range Strike Bomber, a new generation of aircraft designed to reach deep into enemy territory.Northrop beat out a team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin in the high-stakes competition for a project likely to be one of the Pentagon’s most significant over the next decade.In announcing the award, valued at nearly $60 billion, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the program represents a “technological leap” that will allow the United States to “remain dominant.”The bomber, which will be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, is a “strategic investment for the next 50 years,” Carter said.
Northrup Grumman’s experience with the B-2 likely gave them the inside edge. Lockheed, Boeing’s partner in their bid, obviously has more recent experience with the state of the art in signature reduction, via the F-22 and F-35, but the B-2 is still the gold standard in stealth.
As for Boeing, sure, they have a long history of building bombers. But it’s just that, history. From the B-17 in 1937 to the last B-52 in 1962, Boeing was synonymous with American bombers. But that’s a quarter century of production. And that was over half a century ago.