The US Air Force (USAF) Nuclear Weapons Center has awarded Boeing a USD250 million contract to integrate the Long Range Stand-Off (LRSO) cruise missile weapon system with the B-52H large-payload multirole strategic bomber aircraft.
Under the provisions of the contract, Boeing will undertake aircraft and missile carriage equipment development and modification, and full integration and testing of the LRSO for the USAF fleet of B-52H platforms. The programme is expected to be completed by 31 December 2024.
The Air Force Material Command issued a pre-solicitation notification on 10 April 2018, indicating that it intended to award the aircraft original equipment manufacturer (Boeing) up to USD250 million to integrate the LRSO weapon 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).
However, while integration work is now set to begin, the LRSO is still a developmental capability and will not be fielded until the 2030 timeframe.
In August 2017 USAF awarded two separate contracts - each with an estimated, but unconfirmed, value of about USD900 million - to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon for work on the LRSO missile. Both contracts run until 2022, following which the air force will select one concept solution to advance its development under an Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development phase contract.
Intended to penetrate and survive integrated air-defence systems and prosecute strategic targets in support of the Air Force's global attack capability and strategic deterrence core function, the LRSO is a developmental, nuclear-capable cruise missile concept that is being proposed as a significantly enhanced replacement for the currently fielded AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). Both conventional and nuclear variants of the LRSO weapon are required to reach initial operational capability before the retirement of their respective ALCM versions - around 2030.
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