The USAF has announced it has selected Raytheon to lead the development of its new conventional and nuclear-armed Long Range Standoff (LRSO) weapon program.
Raytheon was announced as sole-source contractor for the LRSO on April 19 after what the USAF says was ‘an extensive evaluation of contractor programmatic and technical approach during the TMRR’s (Technology Maturation and Risk) preliminary design reviews’. Contracts were previously awarded in August 2017 to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin for the TMRR phase of the program.
“Our competitive TMRR phase, which included both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon as the prime contractors, enabled us to select a high-confidence design at this point in the acquisition process,” USAF Nuclear Weapons Center commander and program executive officer for strategic systems Maj Gen Shaun Morris said in a statement. “And this early off-ramp of a contractor is completely in line with the existing LRSO acquisition strategy, which included periodic reviews to assess contractor designs.
The program office will retain its relationship with Lockheed Martin on the program to provide risk maturation work. “Lockheed Martin has been an excellent contractor and partner throughout the TMRR effort and this pivot to Raytheon does not represent a lack of effort or commitment on their part,” Maj Gen Morris added. “Lockheed Martin has supported the nuclear enterprise for decades and we continue to value their expertise in sensors and nuclear certification and surety.”
The LRSO will replace the AGM-86B/C Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) in service. The AGM-86B carries the W80 warhead and has a range of up to 1,500km, while the AGM-86C carries a conventional warhead. Both are employed from the Boeing B-52H.
The USAF had previously tried to replace the AGM-86 in the 1980s, and the low-observable General Dynamics/Raytheon AGM-129A/B Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM), and the conventional AGM-129C saw limited service with the USAF from 1990 to 2012. But the end of the Cold War saw planned production of the ACM reduced by two-thirds, and it ended up complementing rather than replacing the AGM-86 in service.