Investment Pays Off for Northrop Grumman

Arnie Alpert on November 02, 2015

Five years of lobbying and donations to more than 200 key members of Congress paid off big for Northrop Grumman, which last week won a huge Pentagon contract for a new bomber, designed to deliver two types of thermonuclear weapons.  

Company Wins Mega-Contract for Next Generation Bomber

The Pentagon’s decision to award Northrop Grumman a $21.4 billion contract to design and build a new generation of bombers followed years of lobbying and investment of millions of dollars by the Virginia-based corporation.

The plane, known as the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), is a key component of the trillion dollar plan to produce an entire new generation of planes, missiles, and submarines designed to deliver a new generation of nuclear weapons to targets all over the world.  As the recently approved National Defense Authorization Act expressed the will of Congress, “It is the policy of the United States to operate, sustain, and modernize or replace the triad of strategic nuclear delivery systems,” including “heavy bombers equipped with nuclear gravity bombs and nuclear air-launched cruise missiles.”  (See “Politics Behind Nuclear Overkill” for more on the NDAA.) 

“More than just a first-strike weapon, [the LRS-B] is expected to be a centerpiece of future U.S. warfare,” Defense One reported in September.

Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon already have contracts for development of the new cruise missile, also known as the Long Range Standoff missiles, or LRSO.  The missiles would carry the W-80 warhead, which has explosive force as much as ten times the bomb that wiped out Hiroshima.  (See this article from “War is Boring” for more.)

According to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, Northrop Grumman made $4.6 million in campaign contributions to 224 members of Congress with seats on Armed Services and Appropriations committees in the House and Senate since 2010.  (One recipient, Rep. Jim Renacci, appears to also own stock in the corporation, according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics.)

The Center for Public Integrity also reported that Northrop Grumman employed more than 100 lobbyists, including five former members of Congress, at a cost of $85.4 million over 5 years to persuade Congress, the Defense Department, and other federal agencies.  Their main task was convincing Pentagon officials to give the contract to Northrop Grumman instead of its rival, a joint proposal by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which also spent millions on lobbyists and campaign contributions over the same period of time.   

Chalk up another victory for the military industrial complex. 

For Northrop Grumman, the $21.4 billion contract represents a 23,777% return on its political investment.  


Arnie Alpert

Arnie Alpert

Arnie Alpert is co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program, which he has led since 1981.  In that time he has been involved in movements for economic justice and affordable housing, civil and worker rights, peace and disarmament, abolition of the death penalty, and an end to racism and homophobia.