Super Spirit. Sky Dragon. Nighthawk II. Marauder II. Vengeance. Ghost. Shadow.
You've told us what you think the U.S. Air Force's next-generation stealth bomber should be called. Now tell the Air Force.
The service has officially kicked off its naming contest for the future B-21 stealth bomber, known as the Long Range Strike-Bomber, or LRS-B. Air Force Global Strike Command this week launched a website designed to collect submissions from airmen, their family members and retirees. Curiously, it doesn't say anything about veterans.
The site's "Name the B-21" portal lets respondents submit up to three proposed names, along with a justification of up to 200 words, name, duty status, email address and phone number.
A panel or panels of judges, depending on how many submissions are received, will whittle down the list to the top 10 entries. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Mark Welsh will then select the winning name from the list.
The participant (or participants?) who submitted the winning name will be invited to attend the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Exhibition in September near Washington, D.C.
Unfortunately, the fine print doesn't say anything about a cash prize. Indeed, it makes clear that participants have no stake in the name whatsoever:
"You agree that, by submitting a name, you irrevocably assign and transfer to Sponsor all right, title and interest in the B-21 name throughout the world, including, without limitation, all copyright, trademark or other intellectually property rights, and you agree to execute any additional documents Sponsor may deem necessary to evidence or effectuate such assignment."A team led by Northrop, maker of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and drone aircraft, in October beat out another led by Boeing Co., the world’s largest aerospace company, and Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, for the $21.4 billion initial contract as part of the LRS-B program.
The Air Force plans to buy a total of 100 of the next-generation bombers at an inflation-adjusted cost of $564 million per plane to replace its aging fleet of B-52 Stratofortresses made by Boeing Co. and a least a portion of its B-1 fleet.