Defense Department acquisition chief Ashton Carter has met with some of the largest defense contractors — Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing — to discuss plans for a new generation of nuclear long-range bombers.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the new aircraft would be the first long-range U.S.-built bomber in more than a decade ago. And the department’s “wish list” runs 80 to 100 deep.
The three companies Carter has met with — separately, of course — are considered top contenders for the $55 million bomber contract, with work to be completed in Southern California.
The Pentagon has set a goal of the mid-2020s for the bombers to be operational.
“It is important that we begin this project now to ensure that a new bomber can be ready before the current aging fleet goes out of service,” soon-to-retire Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said at a news briefing earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s FY 2012 budget includes $197 million to support development for the new program, according to Global Security Newswire, and some $3.7 billion will be spent over the next five years, according to the Air Force.