New nuclear missile design concepts to be matured by Lockheed Martin, Raytheon

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. U.S. Air Force officials selected Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to mature design concepts and prove developmental technologies for the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile program.

Each company was awarded a of approximately $900 million, with an approximate 54-month period of performance. Upon successful completion of the contracts, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center will choose a single contractor for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development and Production and Deployment phases of the program.

"This weapon will modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear triad," says Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “Deterrence works if our adversaries know that we can hold at risk things they value. This weapon will enhance our ability to do so, and we must modernize it cost-effectively.”

The current Air Launched Cruise Missile (ACLM) was first fielded in the early 1980s with a 10-year design life, and Lockheed and are charged with developing the technologies and demonstrating reliability and maintainability of a replacement weapon. The aging ALCM will continue to face increasingly significant operational challenges against emerging threats and reliability challenges until replaced. The Air Force plans to start fielding LRSO in the late 2020s.

“The LRSO will be a reliable, long-ranging and survivable weapon system and an absolutely essential element of the nuclear triad,” Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, told the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee in May. “The LRSO missile will ensure the bomber force continues to hold high-value targets at risk in an evolving threat environment, including targets deep within an area-denied environment.”

Unarmed AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Roidan Carlson.

The new design will replace the aging AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile with modernized weapon capabilities designed for its nuclear bomber fleet, to include the B-21, Air Force officials say.

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