The Bomber Countdown Has Started

The Air Force is within weeks of issuing a final request for proposals for the new Long-Range Strike Bomber and expects to choose a single contractor to build the airplane “nominally in about a year,” service acquisition executive William LaPlante told Air Force Magazine in an interview. A draft RFP has been out for some time, and while there are “still some iterations going on” between USAF and its contractors over what the final RFP will say, “hopefully that will wrap up soon,” LaPlante said. The downselect in Spring of 2015 will narrow the field of competitors to just one contractor or team, he said. The competition phase has not been limited to “paper studies,” he allowed, but includes flying demonstrators or better. “We will have variants of technical articles … if you want to call them ‘prototypes,’” he said, and this fact, though previously undisclosed, should be no surprise because the program is “relying on relatively mature technologies,” LaPlante explained. Some of these flying demonstrators are the product of “internal resources that industry has already; some of it is stuff that we have funded through various programs over the years.” The product will therefore be “a combination of government (and) … internal investment” from the contractors. A team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin has said it is pursuing the LRS-B contract, and Northrop Grumman is also expected to be in the running.