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​Northrop Grumman, which won the contract for the Air Force’s Long-Range Strike Bomber, said it was “disappointed ... its former LRS-B competitors have decided to disrupt a program that is so vital to national security” by protesting the award. Randy Belote, a company spokesman, said the Air Force “conducted an exceptionally thorough and disciplined process with multiple layers of review. Their process took into full account the parties’ respective offerings and their relative capabilities to execute their offerings on schedule and on budget.” Northrop offered an approach “that is inherently more affordable and based on demonstrated performance and capabilities. Our record stands in contrast to other manufacturer’s large aircraft programs of the last decade.” He pointed out that Northrop Grumman is “the only company to ever design and build a stealth bomber” and offered “the best solution” in the contest. Under protest rules, Northrop Grumman must stop work on the project until the protest is resolved. The Government Accountability Office has until Feb. 15 to determine the merits of the protest. If it finds no merit in Boeing’s protest, that finding may be announced sooner.