The Engine and Nomenclature Mystery

The Air Force declined to say what engines will power its LRS-B—and in fact declined even to say what the nomenclature for the new airplane will be, such as B-3 or B-4. “We won’t go into any details of components or subcontractors due to classification and enhanced security,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military assistant to USAF acquisition executive William LaPlante said. However, a service spokeswoman said the engine “is included in the overall contract.” Each competitor “conducted a competition to determine the engine that would be used on the LRS-B aircraft” as required in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, she reported, and the costs of the engine were included in the program cost figures provided Tuesday. Though the Air Force declined to say anything about who is on Northrop Grumman’s LRS-B team, United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney issued a statement congratulating “Northrop Grumman for their selection on this very important program,” but the company declined “to comment on any other questions regarding the Long-Range Strike Bomber program.” As for nomenclature, Air Force spokesmen said that none has been set, and that Global Strike Command will determine what the nomenclature should be. Air Force officials have said privately there was some wrestling over whether the LRS-B’s designation should include “Q,” since future versions will be optionally unmanned, and “Q” designates remotely piloted, or unmanned, aircraft in DOD parlance.