The Air Force is proceeding with its Long Range Standoff (LRSO) weapon program after announcing last year it would delay a contract award for three years.
Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) chief Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson told reporters Tuesday the service completed an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for LRSO, which is to replace the Air Force’s decades-old Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). Wilson said the AoA is now in the hands of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
Wilson said the Air Force is now working on the phasing, timing and funding. More details should be available next week when President Barack Obama releases his fiscal year 2016 budget request. The Air Force last year delayed the LRSO program and an anticipated FY ’15 contract award by three years, citing higher priorities and reduced funding in FY ’15. A service spokewoman said last year warhead uncertainty and sequestration-related budget cuts drove the decision (Defense Daily; March 3).
As integrated air defenses improve, Wilson said the Air Force will need a weapon that can match those technological advances.
“We’ll need a missile that will be able to penetrate the most sophisticated air defenses going forward,” Wilson said at a Defense Writers Group (DWG) breakfast in downtown Washington.
Wilson said, like the ALCM, there will also be a conventional variant of LRSO. The Air Force will use ALCM through 2023, he said. The ALCM made its first flight in August 1979, according to prime contractor Boeing [BA].
ALCM, formally known as AGM-86B/C, is a long-range, subsonic, 3,200-pound self-guided nuclear missile carried by a B-52 at high and low altitudes. The missile electronically “sees” the terrain over which it flies and can travel more than 1,500 miles to hit the target. The conventional variant of ALCM is known as CALCM and is the ‘C’ designation of AGM-86.
Representatives from Boeing and Lockheed Martin [LMT] in 2013 said they would pursue the LRSO program (Defense Daily; Oct. 21, 2013). The Air Force said in early 2013 it awarded firm-fixed-price pre-technology study contracts for LRSO to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Raytheon [RTN].