The U.S. Air Force in fiscal 2023 is requesting almost $981 million for the Raytheon Technologies‘ [RTX] Long Range Standoff Missile (LRSO), nearly $382 million more than appropriated by Congress in fiscal 2022 and more than $615 million more than in fiscal 2021.

Of the $980.8 million the Air Force asks in fiscal 2023 for LRSO, about $52 million looks to be for long-lead acquisition items for the next generation nuclear cruise missile.

Last July, the Air Force awarded Raytheon’s missiles and defense division in Tucson, Ariz. a $2 billion cost plus contract with performance incentives for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of LRSO (Defense Daily, July 1, 2021).

Before a LRSO procurement decision the Air Force secretary and DoD acquisition boss are to provide to Congress an updated cost estimate for LRSO, a certification that future years spending plans will include that cost estimate and a copy of the justification and approval (J&A) documentation allowing the Air Force to move ahead with a sole-source contract to Raytheon and including the Air Force secretary’s assessment of how the service “will manage the cost of the program in the absence of competition,” according to the the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The fiscal 2022 NDAA also requires the Air Force secretary “to ensure that the B-21 bomber is capable of employing [LRSO].” Northrop Grumman [NOC] is building the B-21 Raider in Palmdale, Calif.

LRSO “retains penetrating and survivable capabilities in advanced Integrated Air Defense Systems and GPS-denied environments from significant stand-off ranges, ensuring we maintain a credible deterrent,” the Pentagon said. “Combined with nuclear capable bombers, LRSO provides the nuclear triad with a clear, visible, and tailorable deterrent. LRSO provides the president and U.S. forces the ability to project power and hold at risk any target at any location on the globe. LRSO also provides a hedge against future technological and geopolitical uncertainties.”

The fiscal 2022 NDAA required Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to brief the congressional defense committees on the execution of the LRSO EMD contract by the end of last month and to provide insight on “how the timely development of [LRSO] may serve as a hedge to delays in other nuclear modernization efforts” and “the effects of potential delays in the W80–4 warhead program on the ability of [LRSO] to achieve the initial operational capability [IOC] schedule.”

LRSO is to replace the Boeing [BA] AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), first fielded in 1982 and “well past its original 10-year service life design,” DoD has said.

The Air Force has said that the details of LRSO, which is to reach IOC by 2030, are classified.