In front of the nation’s football fans yesterday, Northrop Grumman placed this commercial depicting its lineage of flying wing aircraft and possibly their next, top-secret stealth bomber. For those who missed it because they watch the Super Bowl for the game rather than the advertisements, you can check it out here.
Aerospace and defense news media are buzzing with anticipation from this ad. They suspect the veiled aircraft to be Northrop Grumman’s entry in to the military’s Long Range Strike-Bomber competition. This highly classified program to build the next generation stealth bomber is, according IHS Jane’s 360, at the top of the pentagon’s priority list for military spending. The LRS-B ranks right up there with the F-35, but the military has said that they will pay no more than $550 million for each aircraft.
There are two teams competing for the military contract to build the new stealth bomber. Northrop Grumman is one, and a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing is the other. While the LRS-B program is shrouded by secrecy, Defense News says that pentagon will announce the winner of the contract in late spring or early summer of this year. Whomever wins will be slated to build 80-100 stealth bombers.
What this means is that both teams have probably built their entry into the the LSR-B competition. What they look like and what their capabilities are, nobody can say for sure. Of course, the internet is filled with rumors and sightings of strange jets.
Northrop Grumman’s Super Bowl ad gives the public some idea of the shape of the new aircraft. And this isn’t the first time that the aerospace firm has teased aviation enthusiasts by alluding to the aircraft’s shape in an advertisement. David Axe from War is Boring calls these kinds of commercials, “Expert aerospace trolling.”
So what can we tell about the future’s stealth bomber from the commercials? It probably won’t have a tail, or, as it is known in the business, a vertical stabilizer. But this isn’t a surprise coming from Northrop Grumman because of their history with flying wing aircraft design. Beyond that, the presence of a pilot at the end of the commercial suggests that this new bomber will not be a drone. It might be manned.