US aerospace giant Boeing was awarded a contract to integrate an air-launched cruise missile system, which will replace the AGM 86 nuclear cruise missile, on a B-52H Stratofortress bomber platform, according to an Air Force Materiel Command posting on the federal business opportunities website this week.
In a recent announcement, the service said that the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Air Delivered Capabilities Directorate, Nuclear Weapons Acquisition Division, Long Range Stand-Off (LRSO) Cruise Missile Program Office awarded a sole source contract to Boeing Defense, Space and Security to perform B-52H Weapon System Integration and related support activities.
The LRSO B-52 WS Integration contract is part of the overall LRSO Cruise Missile (CM) program Acquisition Category (ACAT) ID program assigned to the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Strategic Systems (AFPEO/SS) Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.
integrate two LRSO missile designs onto the B-52 platform during the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) and one missile design during the first part of the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the LRSO program.
This acquisition will provide the B-52H and LRSO System Program Offices (SPOs) engineering, logistics, and program management support to ensure LRSO full integration on its designated threshold platform, the B-52.
“The basic ordering period will be five (5) years with completion of delivery orders within 12 months after the end of the ordering period,” said in an announcement.
Boeing will also perform repairs and provide repair parts for the modified hardware as it will not be in the current Air Force inventory once modified or developed.
Boeing will also provide all associated support equipment and test equipment required to support the modified configurations. It is not possible right now to list exactly what hardware will be newly developed and what can be modified.
The LRSO weapon system constitutes the cruise missile, pylon, rotary launcher, software and aircraft using MIL Standard 1 760 as the interface. The ceiling value is $250M utilizing Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) FY 2019 – FY 2023 funds.
Boeing, as the original aircraft manufacturer, is the only source with the unique experience, expertise, and facilities to satisfy specific LRSO B-52 weapon system integration requirements. Boeing designed, developed, and produced the B-52 and has maintained the design since the 1950s.
The B-52 cannot penetrate adversary air defenses; therefore, without the LRSO, the B-52 will cease to play a role in the nuclear mission once the AGM-86 is retired, and the retirement of this weapon might occur before the B-21 is operational in the nuclear role in significant numbers.
If the AGM 86 nuclear cruise missile becomes obsolete well in advance of retirement, then the B-52 could become irrelevant in the nuclear role by the late 2020s.