WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman is wasting no time in moving to protect its Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) contract win.
Less than two hours after the Air Force announced Northrop was its choice to build 80 to 100 future bombers for the service, the company launched AmericasNewBomber.com, in what appears to be a move to protect both the contract win and the LRS-B program as a whole.
The website features a breadth of information largely focused on making the case for why America should spend billions in the coming decades to fund a new bomber.
Splashed over a picture of a bomber pilot reads the warning: "Our potential adversaries are extending their reach, and stealth bombers are America's most strategic asset to deter future threats and keep our nation safe. Today we only have 20 of them."
The site then directs readers to send emails to a series of top US figures, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, supporting the bomber.
"I am writing to express my support for the United States Air Force's Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program," the pre-written letter reads. "Our national security depends on the ability to deter adversaries and defend American interests at a moment's notice in any corner of the world. I urge you to support the LRS-B program to preserve our military's advantages in a challenging and dynamic global environment."
The LRS-B program is expected to find itself in an eventual funding fight with the Navy's Ohio Class nuclear submarine program. Air Force officials and experts alike have expressed concerns to Defense News over the last several months that the service is not doing enough to pave the way for the program on the Hill. The website appears to be a way to address that deficiency.
Of course, the website can also be a tool for Northrop if the Boeing-Lockheed Martin team it defeated decides to protest the Air Force's decision, as is widely expected. While the protest is handled by the independent GAO, big programs are often also fought in Congress.
Boeing and Lockheed will likely wage intense lobbying campaigns to rally support for a protest. Boeing is expected to tap the Missouri delegation, including influential Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, while Lockheed will look to the Texas delegation, particularly Fort Worth's Republican Rep. Kay Granger and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. William "Mac" Thornberry, also a Republican.
One expert predicted the Missouri and Texas delegations will come out swinging for the Boeing-Lockheed team.
"McCaskill will go to war for this and Texas will back it," one defense analyst told Defense News.
Throughout the LRS-B contract campaign, Northrop was not shy about advertising. It launched a major ad campaign that covered the streets around Capitol Hill with posters advertising the company's technology, while also launching a pair of flashy TV ads — including one that ran locally during the Super Bowl.
Lara Seligman contributed to this report
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.