Raytheon wins B-2 bomber training, logistics contract

The Air Force last week awarded Raytheon Training Inc. a 10-year, $150 million contract to provide the full range of contractor logistics support services for the stealth bomber.

The B-2 Training System includes aircrew and maintenance training devices, hardware and software support, software and courseware development, aircrew training mission-generation systems, academic training materials and various media.

Under the contract, Ray-theon will assume total responsibility for the B-2 Training System, including cost accountability as well as schedule and system performance. In addition, the contract statement of work calls for the contractor to ensure concurrence of training systems development with upgrades currently being undertaken on the B-2 aircraft.

According to Rick Oyler, a spokesman for Raytheon, the contract also will include task orders for modifications to existing training devices and course curricula. In addition, the contract will provide for various field services, such as system sustaining engineering and software maintenance, Oyler said. However, the pre-planned modifications and various simulation technology improvements that may be required to accommodate the latest configuration of the aircraft have not yet been defined by the Air Force, he said.

A spokesman for the 509th Bomb Wing's Training Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., said Raytheon has been running the training programs for the wing for some time and has done very well. The new contract likely will cover future requirements and maintenance of existing systems, he said.

"The simulation system for the Block 30 aircraft was up and running before the aircraft was ready," the spokesman said. "Right now our simulation systems match the configuration of the aircraft. We used to play catch-up, but we're there now."

According to a General Accounting Office report published in June, six out of nine B-2 aircraft had been outfitted with what is known as the Block 30 configuration, the most up-to-date configuration that incorporates all of the latest technological advances [FCW, July 6].

GAO also reported that problems with the command and control systems used aboard the Air Force's costly stealth bomber contributed to a list of deficiencies that limit the aircraft's ability to carry out bombing missions— a conclusion some experts said is inaccurate.

GAO concluded that problems with the B-2 bomber's automated ground-mission planning system— required to rapidly plan and launch strikes— as well as problems with the aircraft's defensive system— designed to provide pilots with information on enemy threats— "limit the aircraft's ability to fully meet" Air Force objectives.

The boomerang-like bomber was first developed in 1981 by Northrop Grumman Corp.'s B-2 Division to be the Air Force's stealth bomber capable of delivering conventional or nuclear bombs across great distances in a short period of time. In 1986 the government estimated that each plane would cost $438 million. According to a recent GAO report, the development and procurement cost for each bomber is now estimated to be more than $2.1 billion.

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