March 9, 2016

Air Force announces major subcontractors for B-21

Stuart Ibberson

During a Pentagon briefing, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James named seven companies who will join Northrop Grumman in building the B-21 Long Range Stealth Bomber.

Almost five months after awarding Northrop the contract, it has emerged that Pratt & Whitney will be building the new planes engines.
The engine, as expected, will be built at the Pratt & Whitney East Hartford, Conn., facility according to James.

The other six industry partners named March 7 will work on “airframe or mission systems” for the new plane, James said.

These contractors are: BAE Systems, working out of Nashua, N.H.; GKN Aerospace in St. Louis, Mo.; Janicki Industries in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.; Orbital ATK in Clearfield, Utah, and Dayton, Ohio; Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas.
Further details about which components each contractor would make were not forthcoming.

The announcement comes as the Air Force is attempting to be more transparent and build support for the expensive program, especially on Capitol Hill, James said.

The B-21 is already under fire from some quarters as it battles for funding against other Air Force and Pentagon priorities; and earlier this month, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, threatened to block the program.

“The B-2 remained in the shadows for too long, it remained classified — too many details remained classified too long,” James said. “In the case of the B-21, we are leaning forward and we are trying to be more transparent and we are going to continue to do so.”

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