The Air Force last week awarded Boeing a $14.3 billion indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to modernize the B-1 and B-52 bomber weapons systems through 2029, according to an April 12 announcement.
The contract includes the modification, modernization, engineering, sustainment and test for the weapons systems on the B-1 Lancer and the B-52 Stratofortress. “This B-1/B-52 Flexible Acquisition and Sustainment contract provides for the upcoming modernization and sustainment efforts to increase lethality, enhance survivability, improve supportability, and increase responsiveness,” the announcement said.
Work will be performed in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is expected to be complete by April 11, 2029. Fiscal 2019 research, development, test, and evaluation funds in the amount of $1,215,568 are being obligated on the first task order at the time of award.
The contract award comes as the Air Force continues work on its next-generation bomber, the B-21 Raider in development by Northrop Grumman.
The Air Force’s military deputy for acquisition, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, told the Senate Armed Services Airland subcommittee during an April 9 hearing that the next milestone for the B-21 program will be first flight.
The program is “executing the way we want,” he said. The Air Force declared the program had passed the critical design review in December. Service officials have previously stated that initial operating capability is expected in the mid-2020s.
The B-21 is expected to replace the Air Force’s B-1 and B-2 Spirit bomber fleets when it is fielded. The service plans to continue flying its oldest bomber, the B-52, into the 2050s. Boeing is the prime contractor for B-52 modernization, including the upcoming re-engining program for which Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation, and Rolls-Royce plan to compete. A request for proposals for the potentially lucrative contract was expected in March.