USAF to start LRSO cruise missile integration on B-52H in 2019

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USAF to start LRSO cruise missile integration on B-52H in 2019

Even though the Pentagon has yet to select a contractor to develop the next-generation LRSO cruise missile, the USAF is preparing to start integrating the weapon on the B-52H bomber from next year onward

Even though the Pentagon has yet to select a contractor to develop the next-generation Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) cruise missile, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is preparing to start integrating the weapon on the B-52H bomber from next year onward.

Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) issued a presolicitation notification on Apr. 10, signaling its intention to award Boeing with $250 million for the integration and testing work from Jan. 1, 2019 till Dec. 31, 2023.

According Jane’s work will include the provision of modified aircraft hardware software development testing, logistics, training, and program management support, and will take place at Boeing’s Oklahoma City facility in Oklahoma.

The LRSO is known to be a stealth cruise missile that is intended to replace the incumbent AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) that has been operational since 1986, though very few other details have so far been released by the USAF. The service has said that the weapon’s range would be close to that of the ALCM, which stands between 1,200 km and 2,500 km.

“The LRSO will be a critical element of the United States’ nuclear deterrence strategy, but we must continue to support the ALCM program until it is fielded,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC) commander and Air Force program executive officer for Strategic Systems, last year.

The LRSO weapon system will be a cost-effective force multiplier for B-52, B-2 and B-21 aircraft to credibly deter adversaries and assure U.S. allies of our deterrent capabilities.

Both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are currently competing the requirement to develop the LRSO, with the former’s design expected to draw on its AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). No details pertaining to Raytheon’s proposed solution have been disclosed. The programme is currently in the technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) phase and is expected to be ready for fielding in about 2030.

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Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel / U.S. Air Force

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