Bomber on the Merits Only

The choice of who will build the Air Force’s Long-Range Strike Bomber will be made based on the quality of the proposals, not any industrial base considerations, Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief Frank Kendall said March 12. Speaking with reporters after a Bloomberg defense symposium, Kendall said the LRS-B will be selected “on the merits [of the proposal]. By the rules of the source selection … set by the contracting officer.” Responding to recent speculative articles suggesting that either Boeing or Northrop Grumman might exit the combat aircraft business if either loses the LRS-B, Kendall said, “It’s sort of an industry decision” but “I don’t see a major impetus for that, coming out of source selection.” Kendall said ATL continues to use guidelines on industrial base considerations set by Defense Secretary Ash Carter “when he was in my job.” Namely, “we’re comfortable with where we are in the top tier, we want the marketplace to work below that … We’ll look at individual mergers on a case-by-case basis.” Kendall added, “We’d like to have more” prime contractors, but acknowledged, “We have to provide the business for them.”