Northrop will not bid on Air Force’s new fighter
The company's decision leaves Boeing, Lockheed Martin to compete to build the Next Generation Air Dominance jet.
Northrop Grumman will not compete to build the Air Force’s highly secret new fighter jet. The company is responding to “other bidders’ request for proposals as the supplier” for the stealthy Next Generation Air Dominance, or NGAD, aircraft, Northrop CEO Kathy Warden said during the company’s second quarter 2023 earnings call Thursday.
“Before the government officially announced the program and their intent to issue the RFP, we had been quiet, but we have notified the U.S. Air Force that we're not planning to respond to the NGAD RFP as a prime,” Warden said.
The no-bid decision on NGAD doesn’t impact the company’s path to growth, she said, as they have “other opportunities in military aircraft that we are pursuing.”
Northrop might still bid to build the U.S. Navy’s planned sixth-generation fighter, dubbed F/A-XX.
“I'll just say that, when I noted we have other opportunities we are pursuing, I won't disclose at this point exactly what those are until a little more information comes out,” Warden said. “but you could assume that if we feel we're well positioned, and the government is appropriately balancing risk and reward as I said that that would be a program we would pursue.”
The identities of the companies doing development work on the U.S. military’s first sixth-generation fighter have remained under wraps. The only two U.S. companies that currently build fighter jets are Lockheed Martin (F-35, F-16) and Boeing (F/A-18, F-15).
Until now, Northrop was suspected as a possible NGAD company, as it builds the Air Force’s new B-21 Raider bomber and is a major supplier to both Lockheed and Boeing, providing parts for the F-35 and F/A-18.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in May that he saw “two contractors” working closely with program engineers on NGAD at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, home of the NGAD program office.
The service announced in May that they will pick a builder for NGAD in 2024. The solicitation release “formally begins the source selection process” for NGAD, according to last week’s statement, but the actual solicitation sent to companies is classified “to protect operational and technological advantages.”