William LaPlante, assistant secretary for acquisition at the Air Force, said Friday the branch will launch final solicitations for a new long-range bomber within the next few days, Defense News reported Friday.
Aaron Mehta writes that LaPante added the Air Force is scheduled to begin the process of awarding the Long-Range Strike Bomber contract in the first half of 2015.
The branch plans to buy 80 to 100 planes and wants the new fleet operational around the mid-2020s, according to Mehta.
“That program is designed around a fixed set of requirements [with] relatively mature technologies, [where we will] build the first version knowing it won’t have everything on it that we want or will want, ” LaPlante told audience at an Atlantic Council forum held Friday in Washington.
He added the program will have an open architecture framework designed to help the service customize weapons and sensor technology for future military needs, according to Defense News.
Mehta reports the Air Force has set a $500-million-per-unit target price to develop the long-range bomber aircraft.
“If later on we decide to buy 200 bombers, or we decide to buy 50, the [figure] will change, ” LaPlante told the conference audience.
“But you have to give the designers something at the beginning to hold their feet to the fire.”