Tuesday’s award of the contract for the Air Force’s next bomber to Northrop Grumman was a stunning upset. If the decision is sustained, Northrop will return to the first tier of combat aircraft integrators while Boeing will see its military aircraft operations dwindle to the production of nothing but militarized commercial transports. However, that all depends on whether Northrop Grumman can actually execute the bomber program to the cost and schedule for which it has signed up. The Air Force certainly seems convinced it can, but how does a company that was nearly out of the aircraft business deliver the most advanced strike aircraft in the world in less than ten years? And how does it outshine the two leading aircraft integrators in the Western Hemisphere? Inquiring minds want to know — starting with Boeing, which will probably protest the outcome. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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