When Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James revealed the names of seven major subcontractors on the next-generation B-21 bomber last month, she didn’t say what tasks each of them would be performing. In the case of BAE Systems, though, the role seems pretty obvious: BAE is the world’s leading developer and builder of electronic-warfare equipment, and that is at least part of what it likely will be supplying for the bomber. That guess is bolstered by the fact that the company’s EW equipment is installed on all of the Air Force’s other stealthy combat aircraft, including the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter. The Electronic Systems unit of BAE is headquartered in Nashua, New Hampshire, where it is the biggest manufacturer in the state. With a workforce of 11,400 and over 5,000 active contracts, it is the world’s leading repository of electronic-warfare expertise. So while there are lots of other things BAE might be doing on the secret bomber, it is a safe bet that the company has a leading role in supplying electronic-warfare systems essential to the plane’s survival. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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