If the U.S. Air Force gets its biggest wish — a fleet of 80-100 new stealth bombers — the Los Angeles area is likely to enjoy a major economic boost no matter what company the contract to manufacture the bombers is given to. An October 27th article in the Los Angeles Times notes that the projected $60-billion initial contract would be one of the largest in USAF history, and would be a major boon to Southern California’s anemic aerospace industry.
New stealth bomber announcement likely Tuesday afternoon
According to official sources who spoke to the LA times, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and other Air Force top brass will host a press conference to award the winning bid — (Northrop Grumman Corp. or Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. team), after financial markets are closed Tuesday to minimize the impact on the various companies stock.
Aerospace industry analysts point out that neither Northrop Grumman. or the Boeing and Lockheed Martin. team has publicly announced the production facility for the aircraft if it wins. Experts, however, note that no matter who wins, most of the new stealth bombers will almost certainly be assembled at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California a 5,800-acre industrial park north of Los Angeles owned by the government, but leased to aerospace firms to use as a manufacturing facility.
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Various estimates have suggested that the the bomber project could lead to 6,500 new jobs to the Southern California aerospace industry, which has hammered by reduced Pentagon spending in recent years.
The Defense Department is already trying to figure out how to handle major budget cuts, and the U.S. is increasingly relying om unmanned drones instead of fighters and bombers to surveil and attack targets around the globe.
Many critics question the development of a new stealth bomber. While the USAF Air Force claims a new stealth bomber is required to supplant the aging fleet of B-1 B-52 bombers. Note that some of the B52 bombers were actually built in the early 1960s during the Kennedy administration.
Proponents of the new bomber fleet also argue that Russia and China are making major moves to modernize their air forces..