The Air Force and Lockheed Martin [LMT] are developing a plan to fit the company into the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO) program moving forward, even as the service has selected Raytheon’s [RTX] design for the actual cruise missile.

An April 17 notice revealed that the Air Force plans to focus on Raytheon’s LRSO design after completing preliminary design reviews (Defense Daily, April 20). Both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon had been developing designs under Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase contracts awarded in 2017, to replace the Boeing [BA]-built AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM).

Moving forward, Lockheed Martin will be focused on “maturing technologies that we think will be exceptionally important” to LRSO as well as other programs, said Will Roper, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics in an April 29 teleconference.

Lockheed Martin said in a statement to Defense Daily that it is working with the Air Force to close out the company’s work on the TMRR phase and “adjust” its role on the LRSO program moving forward.

“We’ve supported our nation’s nuclear triad for more than 60 years and look forward to working with the [Air Force] to support the LRSO mission, specifically leveraging our sensor technology and nuclear certification and surety expertise,” Lockheed Martin said. Due to the nature of LRSO, much of the details of such work is classified.

Roper lauded the format of the LRSO competition that included a series of “decision gates” to allow the Air Force to make adjustments to the program on a regular basis.

“It’s a very good way to run a tech maturating risk reduction contract, because it allows you to get a pulse on the program at many different milestones, that tell you something about industry’s design and their ability to produce,” he said.

It was at such a decision gate that the service opted to go “full steam ahead” with Raytheon’s design and change course with Lockheed Martin, he noted.

“We were able to make this data informed because of the way TMRR was run, as opposed to going further with the current relationship of both companies,” Roper said. “I think on the whole, the program will have a better chance of succeeding fielding on time, because we’re able to make this decision earlier.”

Meanwhile, Air Force Global Strike Command Commander Gen. Timothy Ray said during a Wednesday teleconference hosted by the Mitchell Institute that he expects LRSO to be fielded on time, “or a little bit early.” (Defense Daily, April 29).

The Air Force remains “highly, highly focused on LRSO, on producibility and lowering costs,” Roper said. The service intends to procure between 1,000 and 1,1100 missiles at a cost of around $10.8 billion to be fielded in the 2030 timeframe, according to a 2020 report by the Congressional Research Service.