Raytheon, an aerospace and defense giant based in Waltham, Massachusetts, has won a $2 billion U.S. Air Force contract to engineer and develop the Long Range Standoff (LRSO) weapon system, the service’s next-generation air-launched nuclear missile.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense contract announcements, during the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD), manufacturing processes will continue to mature and the manufacturing environment will be demonstrated and transitioned to a pilot line readiness state.
Also added that the objective at the end of EMD is to demonstrate full production readiness.
The LRSO program, which aims to field a new air-launched cruise missile capable of both nuclear and conventional strikes, according to the Defense News.
LRSO will replace the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile, oftentimes referred to as the ALCM, which became operational in the early 1980s. The Air Force says its current inventory of ALCMs is still safe to use despite the fact that the weapon only has a 10-year lifespan. However, it has become less effective as enemies bolster their own air defenses and is harder to maintain, as suppliers dry up and parts go obsolete.
The LRSO nuclear-capable cruise missile is expected to be carried on multiple aircraft, including the B-52 and B-21 bombers.