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Raytheon gets $2B to advance US Air Force’s LRSO missile program to next stage

AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile
US Air Force file photo of an AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile that will be replaced by LRSO

The US Air Force has awarded Raytheon Technologies a contract worth up to $2 billion to proceed to the engineering and manufacturing development phase for the Long Range Standoff weapon system.

The company will continue to mature production processes with the aim of demonstrating full production readiness at the end of the EMD phase, according to a Pentagon contract announcement from June 1.

The LRSO cruise missile program is part of the air force’s on-going nuclear recapitalization efforts and will replace the service’s legacy air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). The ALCM was fielded in the early 1980s with a 10-year design life. The aging ALCM will continue to face increasingly significant operational challenges against emerging anti-access/area-denial threats until replaced.

Raytheon was selected as the prime contractor on the program over Lockheed Martin in 2020. According to a Bloomberg report, the air force plans to buy up to 1,000 LRSO missiles.

“The LRSO program office capitalized on a pioneering reliability and manufacturing approach to establish a very capable and mature design during the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony W. Genatempo, AFNWC commander and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems.

“The LRSO team has strived for nearly three years to ensure the Air Force achieved a stable cruise missile design meeting the nation’s requirement for a credible air-delivered nuclear deterrent for many years to come,” said Elizabeth T. Thorn, LRSO program manager.

“Awarding the EMD contract marks our next step in finalizing development, fully maturing our manufacturing techniques, and proving LRSO meets its operational requirements.”

The June 1 contract is cost-plus-fixed-fee, with performance incentives, for a 66-month period of performance. Upon completion of the EMD contract, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center will incorporate EMD data to inform the weapon production negotiations.