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Reports: William LaPlante Says Air Force to Award Bomber Contract Soon

long range bomberWilliam LaPlante, assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force for acquisition, has said the service will award the potential $80 billion contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber soon, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Idrees Ali and Andrea Shalal write that LRSB will succeed the Air Force’s aging fleet of B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers in support of efforts to boost U.S. air power, as LaPlante told reporters at a press briefing.

Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and the Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) team are the final bidders on the program.

Lara Seligman reports Thursday on Defense News that LaPlante said the Air Force leadership wants to be careful in the selection process, which has already seen a six-month extension and a $460 million cut in its fiscal 2016 budget.

William LaPlante
William LaPlante

He also indicated the LRSB could be operational soon after the contract award because the bidders have previously provided component prototypes and scale models for testing their designs, the report said.

Seligman writes that the program is already in the mature stages of development because it is handled by the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office.

“[The] stable requirements and a mature platform design make us very confident in the cost and the execution of the program as we get ready to initiate, ” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the service’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, added during the briefing.

Colin Clark of Breaking Defense also reports that LaPlante confirmed the Air Force plans to buy 100 LRSBs, with the first order of 21 bombers spread over five production lots.

The report noted that the service also plans to announce the price of development comparable to the previously released cost target of $550 million for each plane in fiscal 2010 dollars.

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