Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) welcomed the Air Force’s announcement this week that Northrop Grumman will build the service’s Long-Range Strike Bomber, saying ?the move is critical to replacing the aging bomber fleet. Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Congress will defer to the Pentagon to decide what is needed for future missions while also providing the needed oversight to ensure the cost and schedule of the new bomber remains on track. The award to Northrop means the Air Force’s “big three” acquisition programs—LRS-B, KC-46, and F-35—will be built individually by three separate prime contractors, a move that helps the health of the industrial base. However, Kaine acknowledged the contracts aren’t job placement programs.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.