Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Northrup Grumman Systems Corp. was awarded a minimum $42.8 million to build trailing edge components of the B-2 stealth bomber, the Defense Department announced.
The firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity, four-year base contract with the Defense Logistics Agency has a five-year option period, and was announced by the Pentagon on Friday.
The deal calls for production of the "hot trailing edge" panel of the plane's wing. Located immediately behind the exhaust nozzles on the aircraft's upper surface -- the engines are in the wings -- the polymide panel on the B-2 experiences repeated thermal and vibro-acoustic stress, causing cracks and other degradations.
The replacement panels will solely be used on B-2s of the U.S. Air Force, which has 21 stealth bombers.
Most of the B-2 fleet is stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, although three planes arrived in Britain in August to participate in multinational exercises.
In October 2018, the aircraft completed its first deployment to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, with three B-2s training with F-22 Raptor fighters.
The new contract calls for manufacture of the panels at Northrop Grumman facilities in Oklahoma, Ohio, Missouri and California, with a performance completion date of Oct. 1, 2024.