The U.S. Air Force on Sept. 2 awarded Northrop Grumman [NOC] a $135 million contract for refurbishment of the inertial navigation system of the Boeing [BA] AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM).
“Work encompasses the disassembly, cleaning, inspection, maintenance, re-assembly, testing and finishing actions as required to return the end item to a like-new condition,” the Air Force said. “Work will be predominantly performed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is expected to be completed Sept. 3, 2034.”
The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Tinker AFB, Okla., is the contracting activity.
Litton Guidance and Control Systems, acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2001 as part of the company’s buy of Litton Industries, built the missile’s guidance system.
The Boeing B-52H bomber carries the ALCM, a subsonic, air-to-surface strategic nuclear missile, armed with the W80-1 warhead and in service since 1982.
The Air Force has said that ALCM “is well past its original 10-year design service life.”
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is developing the W80-4 warhead to tip the planned Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO) cruise missiles that Raytheon [RTX] plans to build for the Air Force to replace ALCM (Defense Daily, Sept. 2). The Air Force wants to buy about 1,000 of these missiles, which will be deployed on B52-Hs around 2030, at a cost of about $10.8 billion, according to a 2020 report by the Congressional Research Service.
Maintenance on ALCM has also involved costly overhauls of the F-107-WR-10 turbofan engines made by Williams Research Corp., now part of Michigan-based Williams International.
The Air Force has 536 of the nearly 21 foot, 3,150 pound ALCMs.