The U.S. Air Force released a request for proposals (RFP) for Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program on July 9.
Northrop Grumman and the team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin have made known their intentions to seek the LRS-B contract.
The service said it expects to make a contract award next spring.
The press release has designated the platform as a top priority along with the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and KC-46A tanker did not reveal any more specifications.
“The new bomber is set to be long-range, air-refueled with significant highly survivable aircraft with nuclear and conventional stand-off and direct-attack weapons payload,” the service said. “The LRS-B will provide operational flexibility across a wide range of military operations.”
The Air Force plans to purchase 80 to 100 LRS-B aircraft, with a targeted average unit procurement cost of $550 million.
It aims to declare initial capability of the bomber in the mid-2020s. The new platform will replace the service’s 75 B-52 Strato-fortress and 63 B-1B Lancer bombers; its fleet of 20 B-2 stealth bombers has a service life goal to 2058.
In a report earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said the Air Force may have already spent a substantial amount on developing the LRS-B.
The projected LRS-B budget in the Pentagon’s Future Years Defense Program rises from $258.7 million in Fiscal Year 2013 to $3.4 billion in FY2019, a spending level that suggests a production rather than a development program.
The funding stream “may indicate that significant LRS-B development has already been completed, presumably in classified budgets,” the CRS said.