The B-21 Raider stealth bomber, the most advanced military aircraft known, caused a loss of US$1.56 billion for Northrop Grumman, its manufacturer.
Replacement of the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit, the Raider’s premise is to be a more affordable bomber, but the start of the program surprised Northrop Grumman due to unforeseen costs, inflation and problems in the supply chain.
The company was awarded the engineering, manufacturing, and design (EMD) contract for the B-21 in 2015, in addition to five low-rate initial production (LRIP) options.
At the time, the cost of each bomber was estimated at US$550 million, a value that adjusted for inflation would reach US$778 million.
The LRIP is based on fixed costs and problems in the production chain may have made the project unprofitable over the years.
As the US Department of Defense had already stated, Northrop Grumman was awarded the contract for the first LRIP, which should include four to five aircraft.
“During the fourth quarter of 2023, we again reviewed our estimated profitability on the LRIP phase of the program, and we now believe it is probable each of the first five LRIP lots will be performed at a loss,” explained the company in its statement of results.
Despite this, the company’s CEO, Kathy Warden, stated that the B-21 should become profitable in the long term.