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02 Sep 15. LRS-B Details Emerge: Major Testing, Risk Reduction Complete. The two designs competing to be the US Air Force’s next generation bomber have undergone extensive testing by the service and are far more mature than previously known, to a level nearly unheard of in the Pentagon before a contract award, Defense News has learned.
The designs also feature significantly improved stealth capabilities when compared to the B-2 and still feature plans for future certification of nuclear weaponry and the ability to be optionally manned.
Considered one of the US Air Force’s three top acquisition priorities, the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program has been kept primarily in the dark as the service weighs two competing proposals, one from Northrop Grumman, and the other from a team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. A contract award is expected soon, with indications it could come before the end of September.
On Tuesday, the Air Force held a meeting with outside stakeholders laying out new details on the secretive bomber. According to two individuals with knowledge of the meeting, the service has conducted far greater testing of the bomber designs than is normal for a pre-award program.
One source said the Air Force officials who briefed made it clear that both designs are “very mature,” having undergone wind tunnel testing and extensive survivability tests to evaluate the design from all angles. However, neither design has actually flown, both sources said.
Final requirements on the program were locked down in May 2013, the source said. Since then, the two design teams have been developing and testing their systems, while the service has been focused on doing extensive risk reduction.
A second source cited the Air Force briefers as saying that those designs are very different from each other, with widely different teams on subsystems such as the engines, electronic warfare suites and comms systems. Most of those subcontractors will not be announced when the winner is picked, the second source understands.
“[There is] much greater fidelity than we’ve ever seen before for a pre-EMD program,” the first source said. “It’s really different. They’ve spent a couple years doing these tests.”
The source quoted an official as saying risk reduction has been done “down to the access panels.”
“The risk reduction is done. The designs are technically mature. And we’re ready to move,” that same official reportedly said, adding that the bomber program has the “highest level of maturity I’ve seen in an aircraft build.”
The testing, unusual this early in the acquisition process, is in part because the bomber program is being handled by the Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), a small group inside Air Force acquisitions which handles secretive programs such as the service’s X-37B space plane.
As its name implies, the RCO follows a different acquisition path than the rest of the service, with more freedom in how it procures technologies. The decision to let them take lead on the program was made back in 2011 under then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, following a review of what went wrong with a previously aborted bomber program.
(Source: Defense News)
02 Sep 15. The U.S. Navy’s fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-4) satellite, built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), is talking from space to the satellite control team at the Naval Spacecraft Operations Control facility here after its Florida launch this morning. MUOS-4 will enable near-global coverage for a new secure military communications network offering enhanced capabilities for mobile forces. The MUOS-4 satellite launched at 6:18 a.m. EDT this morning aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. A Lockheed Martin-led initialization team, stationed at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Califo