Weapons

LOCKHEED MARTIN, RAYTHEON SELECTED TO DEVELOP AGM-86B REPLACEMENT

The AGM-86B had become operational in December 1982, with the 416th Bombardment Wing, Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y.

The Pentagon announced under Release No: CR-163-17 that both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have been selected “for the Long Range Standoff weapon’s technology maturation and risk reduction acquisition phase.”

Both companies were give $900 million each and the contract is for five years of work. The Long Range Standoff weapon is meant to replace the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile.

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) began full-scale development of the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) in 1977. The ALCM was meant to greatly enhanche the B-52’s capabilities and help U.S. to maintain a strategic deterrent.

Production of the initial 225 AGM-86B missiles began in fiscal year 1980 and production of a total 1,715 missiles was completed in October 1986. The ALCM had become operational four years earlier, in December 1982, with the 416th Bombardment Wing, Griffiss Air Force Base (AFB), N.Y., which deactivated when the base closed in 1995. The ALCM has also been based at: Grand Forks AFB, N.D., Wurtsmith AFB, Mich., Fairchild AFB, Wash., Eaker AFB, Ark., and Carswell AFB, Texas. The ALCM is currently fielded at Minot AFB, N.D., and Barksdale AFB, La.

In June 1986 a limited number of AGM-86B missiles were converted to carry a high-explosive blast/fragmentation warhead and an internal GPS. They were redesignated as the AGM-86C CALCM. This modification also replaced the B model’s terrain contour-matching guidance system and integrated a GPS capability with the existing inertial navigation computer system.

As we have explained, the CALCM became operational in January 1991 at the onset of Operation Desert Storm (ODS). Seven B-52s, from Barksdale AFB, La., launched 35 missiles at designated launch points in the U. S. Central Command’s area of responsibility to attack high-priority targets in Iraq. This top-secret ultra-long range B-52 Stratofortress mission was named “Operation Secret Squirrel” and marked the beginning of the air campaign for Kuwait’s liberation and are the longest known aircraft combat sorties up to that time (more than 14,000 miles and 35 hours of flight).

After ODS CALCM has been employed effectively in combat in Operation Desert Strike, Desert Fox, Operation Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 1996, 1997 and 2001, 200 additional CALCMs were produced from excess ALCMs. These missiles, designated Block I, incorporate improvements such as a larger and improved conventional payload (3,000 pound blast class), a multi-channel GPS receiver and integration of the buffer box into the GPS receiver. The upgraded avionics package was retrofitted into all existing CALCM (Block 0) so all AGM-86C missiles are electronically identical.

The final 50 missiles that were converted from the AGM-86B are the AGM-86D.

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Roidan Carlson / U.S. Air Force

Source: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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