Boeing, Lockheed team up to bid on new U.S. bomber program

Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:54pm EDT
 
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By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote) will team up to bid on a new U.S. Air Force long-range bomber program, a multibillion-dollar project that U.S. Air Force officials have described as a top acquisition priority.

Boeing, which has played a role in every U.S. bomber program since World War Two, would be the prime contractor on the next-generation bomber program, with Lockheed as its primary subcontractor, the companies said on Friday.

The Air Force has said it plans to buy as many as 100 new bombers for no more than $550 million each.

The Air Force had no immediate comment on the pact between the companies. Its estimate of $550 million a plane reflects only the procurement cost of the new weapons, but not the cost of developing the plane or construction of new hangars.

In July, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel vowed to protect several weapons programs, including the new bomber program, if Congress failed to reverse mandatory budget cuts and the military opted to preserve high-end capabilities over size.

Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N: Quote), maker of the B-2 stealth bomber, is also expected to compete to build the new long-range strike bomber, a program that's expected to reap billions of dollars of revenue for the winning bidder.

Northrop spokesman Randy Belote declined to comment on the Boeing-Lockheed teaming agreement, but said his company viewed the bomber program as "vital to both national security and the power projection capability of the U.S. Air Force."

STIFF COMPETITION   Continued...

 
Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin. REUTERS/Lockheed Martin/Randy A. Crites/Handout