Boeing Co yesterday said it would end further legal challenges to the award of an estimated $80 billion US Air Force bomber contract to Northrop Grumman Corp last year.
The decision comes after the US Government Accountability Office last week dismissed a formal protest filed by Boeing and its key supplier, Lockheed Martin Corp.
"While we remain firmly convinced of the validity of the issues raised in our protest to the Government Accountability Office of the Long Range Strike-Bomber contract award to Northrop Grumman, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin team has decided not to pursue further challenges to that award, either through the GAO or in federal court," the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Air Force had revealed an image of the B-21, a highly secretive, next-generation stealth bomber which was expected to replace an ageing fleet of older planes flying missions around the world.
The illustration was unveiled by secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, yesterday, for the first time at an Air Force Association convention in Orlando, Florida.
''We have an image. We have a designation, but here's what we don't have,'' she told the audience. ''We don't yet have a name.''
She called on airmen and others to suggest names for the stealthy aircraft under development which had earlier been known simply as the Long Range Strike-Bomber, or LRS-B.
According to Loren B Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute and a defense industry consultant, the main reason for releasing the picture was to make the program real for legislators, who had been treating it up to now as an abstraction or concept rather than a concrete item.
The Air Force could buy between 80 to 100 of the Northrop Grumman bombers, which resembled the bat-winged B-2 Spirit.
Though costs had not been finalised, the programme could reach up to $80 billion according to one estimate when research and development and procurement were factored in.