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Shrouded airplane
A shrouded airplane takes center stage in a Northrop Grumman TV commercial. The company’s design for the Long Range Strike Bomber is similarly shrouded in mystery. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

The Government Accountability Office ruled that Northrop Grumman won the U.S. Air Force’s contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber fair and square, and turned back a protest of the decision by the Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin.

The next-generation stealth bomber is meant to replace the Air Force’s decades-old B-1 and B-52 bombers starting in the 2020s. The contract could bring as much as $80 billion to Northrop and its subcontractors.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin lost out in the competition, and in November the two companies filed a protest saying that the Defense Department’s selection process didn’t properly weigh all the risks and comparative advantages. After reviewing the record, the GAO denied the protest on Tuesday, clearing the way for Northrop to resume work on the project.

In a follow-up statement, Boeing insisted that the process was “fundamentally and irreparably flawed.”

“We will carefully review the GAO’s decision and decide upon our next steps with regard to the protest in the coming days,” Boeing said. The companies could file a legal challenge in federal court.


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