Air-Launched Weapons

USAF to launch LRSO and B-52 integration in 2019

10 April 2018
The LRSO is intended to replace the AGM-86 cruise missile, seen here being carried by a B-52 bomber. Integration work is due to start in January 2019, though the missile itself will not be ready for fielding until about 2030. Source: US Air Force

The US Air Force (USAF) is to begin integrating the nuclear-capable Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) cruise missile onto its Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft from the beginning of 2019, the service disclosed on 10 April.

As noted in a presolicitation notification issued by Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), the aircraft original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is to be awarded up to USD250 million to undertake integration development and testing of the weapon system on the USAF’s fleet of 76 B-52H bombers between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2023 (with provision for an additional year if needed).

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.

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.

When fully operational, the nuclear-capable LRSO will be carried by the B-52H (46 of which are assigned to the strategic nuclear role), the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, and the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider.

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