LRS-B May Not Be Must-Win

Though some analysts have suggested there will be a shake-out of the major airframe primes based on who does—or who doesn’t—win the Long-Range Strike Bomber contract, Air Force acquisition chief William LaPlante suggested Friday there may be enough work to keep everyone in the game afterwards. “It’s a much bigger consideration than any one program,” LaPLante said at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast. “You have to look at the [foreign military sales] situation” as well as other known programs like the Navy’s UCLASS ISR/strike drone and intense prototyping that will attend the Air Dominance 2030 project. Three times, though, LaPlante noted, “There’s things going on in the classified world” that companies may either already have in-hand or could compete for. After looking at that, he said the Pentagon then looks at the situation “using game theory” and then sets up its source selections “in the context of that broader problem.” However, “it would be wrong … at the 11th hour” to make industrial base considerations a key discriminator, he said. While DOD can’t “control the behavior of companies” after a major award, he said it strives to avoid doing anything “inadvertently” that would “push someone out of the market.” Asked about how the industrial base would affect the LRS-B contract, pentagon acquisition executive Frank Kendall recently said, it would be awarded “on the merits” of the proposal.