Ahead of the Game:

Northrop Grumman views the next long-range strike platform as a complementary aircraft rather than a replacement for its B-2 stealth bomber, so David Mazur, Northrop’s LRS vice president, told reporters in Washington Tuesday. He pointed out that USAF plans to keep its fleet of 21 B-2 bombers around until about 2060, while it must produce a new LRS aircraft by 2018. And, said Mazur, current plans call for this first new LRS platform to have less capability than the B-2. It would carry only some 25,000 pounds of weapons compared to the B-2’s 40K capacity, while its unrefueled flight range would be around 3,000 miles vs. 6,000 for the B-2. All in all, the Air Force plans to keep upgrading the B-2 for a number of years, and Mazur said Northrop is trying to keep those modifications affordable, say around $100 million to $300 million every few years. He also noted that the B-2 serves as an excellent foundation for the new LRS platform.