Boeing and Lockheed Martin will team up — again — to compete for a contract to build the US Air Force’s long-range strike bomber (LRS-B), according to a Boeing media release.
Boeing will act as the prime contractor and Lockheed Martin will be Boeing’s “primary teammate” on the project, says the release.
The relationship revives an earlier Boeing-Lockheed partnership announced in 2008. The companies cancelled that “teaming agreement” in 2010, saying they needed to better understand the government’s goals for the project.
Boeing-Lockheed Martin will go up against competitor Northrop Grumman, which makes the B-2 stealth bomber.
Boeing contributed to the B-2 project, building the outboard portion of the wing, the aft-center fuselage section, the landing gear, the fuel system and the weapons delivery section, according to Boeing’s website.
Air Force officials have said they intend to build 80 to 100 LRS-Bs and have targeted the mid-2020s as when the aircraft will be operational. Details of the programme are classified.
The USAF’s acquisition strategy emphasises the use of proven technology, meaning they want to keep costs down by minimising development of new avionics, engine and airframe technology.
“Building on decades of manned and unmanned weapon systems experience, we’re proud to bring our collection of technologies, capabilities and resources to affordably design, develop, produce and sustain the bomber program," says Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, in the release.
“The team will be able to produce unique and affordable solutions that could not be achieved without partnering,” adds the release.
Boeing’s history of building bombers dates to the B-17 and B-29, which flew during the Second World War, followed by the Cold War-era B-47, which was the USA's first jet-powered bomber.
Boeing’s eight-engine, swept-wing B-52 first flew in 1952 and is still in service with the US Air Force.
In 1996 Boeing acquired Rockwell International, which developed and produced the B-1 Lancer, a supersonic bomber that first flew in 1974 and entered service with the US Air Force in 1986.