A procurement scandal has brought together rivals Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. in an effort to build a bomb capable of destroying moving targets on the battlefield in the next decade.
ST. LOUIS — A procurement scandal has brought together rivals Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. in an effort to build a bomb capable of destroying moving targets on the battlefield in the next decade.
Boeing had a lock on the $2.7 billion small-diameter bomb program until a scandal involving Darleen Druyun, a former top Air Force procurement official, called into question a number of Pentagon contracts.
Once competitors on the bomb program, Boeing and Lockheed officials said Wednesday that they were happy to be partners in developing technology that will help warplanes hit evasive targets in all kinds of weather.
If Boeing and Lockheed win, production of the next phase of the small-diameter bomb could begin in the next decade.
This year, Boeing began production on the first phase of the bomb. Assembled in St. Charles, Mo., the bombs are designed to hit stationary targets and could be available to U.S. forces by next year.
Lockheed Martin was Boeing’s only rival for the small-diameter bomb contract. Lockheed lost, but an investigation later found that Druyun played a major role in changing technical requirements that favored Boeing’s bid.
In early 2002, both companies were being evaluated on their capabilities to build a bomb that could hit fixed and moving targets. Lockheed was viewed as having the upper hand in developing technology for hitting a moving target. Boeing was considered weak in that area.
The Government Accountability Office later determined that Druyun played a significant role in deleting requirements for moving targets, a move that favored Boeing.
The GAO later sustained a protest by Lockheed over the award of the small-diameter bomb contract to Boeing. This led to the current competition for the second phase of building a more sophisticated small-diameter bomb.
During a conference call, Mark McGraw, vice president of Boeing’s Weapons Enterprise Capability Center, said Lockheed’s seeker technology is the best and most mature in the defense industry. That technology helps the bomb lock onto its target during the final phase of flight.
As the prime contractor, Boeing will have responsibility for the overall weapon system. Lockheed Martin has total sub-system responsibility for the seeker system. The precision provided by the seeker will enable air crews to attack more targets with fewer missions.