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Boeing, Lockheed Martin Protest Air Force Long Range Strike-Bomber Contract Award

November 6, 2015 – Boeing and Lockheed Martin filed a formal protest today asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the decision to award the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) contract to Northrop Grumman.

The Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) is a proposed long-range strategic bomber for the United States Air Force, intended to be a heavy-payload stealth aircraft capable of carrying thermonuclear weapons.

Initial capability is expected in the mid-2020s. A request for proposal to develop the aircraft was issued in July 2014. The Air Force plans to purchase 80–100 LRS-B aircraft at a cost of $550 million each (2010 dollars). A development contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman in October 2015.


Boeing and Lockheed Martin concluded the selection process for the Long Range Strike Bomber was fundamentally flawed. The cost evaluation performed by the government did not properly reward the contractors’ proposals to break the upward-spiraling historical cost curves of defense acquisitions, or properly evaluate the relative or comparative risk of the competitors’ ability to perform, as required by the solicitation. 

That "flawed evaluation" led to the selection of Northrop Grumman over the industry-leading team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, whose proposal offers the government and the warfighter the best possible LRS-B at a cost that uniquely defies the prohibitively expensive trends of the nation’s past defense acquisitions. On 27 October 2015, the Defense Department awarded the development contract to Northrop Grumman. The initial value of the contract is $21.4 billion, but the deal could eventually be worth up to $80 billion.

In a press statement Randy Belote, vice president of strategic communications for Northrop Grumman Corporation stated, "Northrop Grumman Corporation is disappointed that its former LRS-B competitors have decided to disrupt a program that is so vital to national security".


"The U.S. Air Force conducted an exceptionally thorough and disciplined process with multiple layers of review. Their process took into full account the parties' respective offerings and their relative capabilities to execute their offerings on schedule and on budget. Northrop Grumman offered an approach that is inherently more affordable and based on demonstrated performance and capabilities. Our record stands in contrast to that of other manufacturers' large aircraft programs of the last decade. As the only company to ever design and build a stealth bomber, we offered the best solution for our nation's security. We look forward to the GAO reaffirming the Defense Department's decision so we can continue work on this critically vital program."

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