WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp will team up to bid on the Pentagon's next-generation long-range bomber, the companies said on Friday, setting their sights on a project U.S. Air Force leaders have called a top acquisition priority.
Boeing, which has played a role on every U.S. bomber program since World War Two, would be the prime contractor on the program, with Lockheed as the primary subcontractor, the companies said.
Northrop Grumman Corp, maker of the B-2 stealth bomber, is also expected to compete to build a new long-range strike bomber, a program that is expected in the coming years to generate billions of dollars of revenues for the winning bidder.
The Air Force has said it plans to buy up 100 new bombers for no more than $550 million each.
Lockheed and Boeing had teamed up in 2008 to develop a joint bid for the bomber, but parted ways two years later. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates had put the program on hold in 2009 and asked the Air Force to find a more affordable approach.
In a statement, Boeing said the team brought together nearly two centuries of combined experience designing, developing and testing aircraft for defense customers around the world.
"Boeing and Lockheed Martin are bringing together the best of the two enterprises, and the rest of industry, in support of the Long-Range Strike Bomber program," said Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing's defense division.
He said the team would emphasize stable planning, efficient and affordable development, and the use of mature technologies as it developed a plan for the new bomber.
Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed's aeronautics division, said teaming agreement would help the companies "affordably design, develop, produce and sustain" a new bomber that met the Air Force's budget and schedule requirements.