Boeing today announced that the company's partnership with rival Lockheed Martin to develop a next-generation bomber has been suspended, with limited likelihood for revival.
"The teaming agreement now is on hold until we understand where the government is headed" with the next-generation bomber program, said Darryl Davis, President of Boeing's secretive Phantom Works division, during a March 1 telephone call with reporters to discuss the company's new Phantom Ray stealth drone.
Such a move would likely lead to competition between Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman if the Pentagon decides to move ahead with building a new bomber.
The two defense giants had pooled their resources to develop mission studies and a road map and share technologies that both were developing for a next-generation strike plane.
Now, "I'm not sure that the agreement will endure; at this point, the jury is still out as to what we're going to do" with long-range strike, Davis said. "The government, in the day and age we're in, probably wants more competition, not less."
Last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put the Next Generation Bomber program on indefinite hold so that the Defense Department could study the need for such an aircraft.
Davis said that he has not heard when or if the long-range bomber program will be restarted, nor who will receive the $200 million requested by the Pentagon in the 2011 budget to continue studies.