The U.S. Air Force on July 1 awarded Raytheon Technologies‘ [RTX] 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 the Long Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO).
The contract could raise the hackles of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.). Smith said this week that, while the Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent next-generation ICBM should be left alone, for now, nuclear weapons spending should be kept at a minimum until the Biden administration completes its nuclear posture review (NPR) in January (Defense Daily, June 29). Smith said that the Air Force should avoid a “big leap” on LRSO, a proposed, nuclear-tipped air-launched cruise missile, until after the NPR is done.
During the LRSO EMD phase, “manufacturing processes will continue to mature and the manufacturing environment will be demonstrated and transitioned to a pilot line readiness state,” the Air Force said in the Pentagon contracts award on July 1.
“The objective at the end of EMD is to demonstrate full production readiness,” the Air Force said. “Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be completed February 2027.”
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has been developing the W80-4 warhead to tip the planned LRSO, which are to replace the Boeing [BA] AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile (Defense Daily, Sept. 2, 2020). The Air Force has wanted to buy about 1,000 LRSOs for deployment on B52-Hs around 2030, at a cost of about $10.8 billion, according to a 2020 report by the Congressional Research Service.