USAF Contracts New Nuclear Cruise Missile

On August 23, the U.S. Air Force have selected Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to develop the Long Range Standoff (LRSO) weapon. Both companies were awarded contracts valued around $900 million and given 54 months to “mature design concepts and prove developmental technologies” for the new missile, according to an Air Force spokeswoman. In fiscal year 2022, USAF will select one company to proceed to the engineering, manufacturing, development, and deployment phases of the program. The Air Force expects to start fielding the LRSO in the late 2020s.

A replacement to the aging AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), the LRSO is expected to be more capable and more reliable in dealing with emerging threats and challenging operational conditions. “This weapon will modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear triad,” said 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.”

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