By Debbie Gregory.
A U.S. Air Force team of approximately 80 people are overseeing the service’s most sensitive aircraft project in decades: the development of a new stealth bomber to be built by Northrop Grumman.
“The Air Force has made the right decision for our nation’s security,” said Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush. “As the company that developed and delivered the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, we look forward to providing the Air Force with a highly-capable and affordable next-generation Long-Range Strike Bomber.”
The move will more than likely create thousands of jobs in Southern California, with much of the work expected to be done in Palmdale. Both Palmdale and the neighboring city of Lancaster have suffered in the last couple of decades as aerospace firms moved jobs out of California to states where wages and other costs are lower. The project will also benefit dozens of smaller companies that supply the major aerospace firms.
Informally being called the B-3, the strike aircraft will be able to fly deep into hostile areas, undetected, where it can unleash serious munitions against an enemy. The emphasis of this next generation bomber will be on stealth and range, and is predicted to be airborne within the next 10 years or so.
The bomber team works inside the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office, a unit that specializes in “delivering eye-watering capabilities,” according to William LaPlante, the service’s acquisition chief.
While the military wish list has been kept secret, as have been most aspects of the new bomber, it will be fully loaded, with lots of technologies and next-gen innovations.
The military is expected to invest somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 billion in creating this game-changing tech, with the B-3 stealth aircraft costing approximately $564 million each. The number of aircraft to be produced is estimated to be between 80 and 100.