The US Air Force awarded contracts to Lockheed and Raytheon to continue development and risk reduction for the new Long Range Standoff capability.
The weapon system is intended to replace the aging AGM-86 ALCMs (Americas only nuclear armed cruise missile)
LRSO is highly controversial due to politics (left says nukes are evil or something), during the presidential election Clinton spoke out against it,
stating she would be inclined to cancel it.
But she lost and the Trump Administration not only seem to mind much, on the contrary, SecDef Mattis outright stated he wants nuclear capable bombers
with standoff capabilities.
Looks like LRSO is doing just fine and moving forward.
So time for some random thoughts.
The entire project will cost up to 30 billion US-$ and the weapon wont be fielded before the late 2020s.
I’m not against LRSO as an capability and don’t share the lefts hysteria about the weapons system.
But I fail to see why an entire new missile is necessary.
As far as what its publically known, LRSO will be nothing more than a conventional LO cruise missile with great range and accuracy.
Which would be great (especially the conventionally armed variant which will also be developed at some point), except the US Air Force already has a
comparable missile in its inventory: JASSM-ER
I fail to see why it wouldn’t be possible to develop a nuclear (!) variant with a fraction of the cost for the LRSO. Sure, with 1000+km range it
probably has less range than what the Air Force wants for the LRSO, but so what? Its more than enough if you pair it with a VLO bomber. Which just
happens to be one the shopping list as well these days.
So why not? LRSO looks redundant to me, a nuclear JASSM-ER would be much cheaper and probably easier to survive a democratic Congress in the 2020s.
Is this push for an entirely new missile just mindless defense spending / aka the usual corruption or is there something more to LRSO?
I'm not sure.
The name has always irritated me. Long Range Standoff is just a description of a capability, not a weapons system. It should be named Lon Range
Standoff Missile or something.
This is speculation, but maybe LRSO is just a front for more than one development effort to get a capability rather than a single weapons system and
what we see publicly isn’t the entire story.
Same is probably true for the entire LRS-B ‘family of systems’ effort, so why not.
I don’t know how common this is, but the LRSO is highly classified, higher than the Minuteman III replacement effort, probably on par with the B-21.
Just an effort to protect the program from certain members of Congress or something more?
Whats also interesting is Request for Information for the propulsion system for LRSO from 2015:
It lists a supersonic engine as an option under review for the LRSO effort.
A (truly) supersonic missile would change the picture obviously, as it would be a step up from what the JASSM-ER offers. And if we think about prompt
global strike efforts and whatnot, a conventional armed supersonic cruise missile with almost intercontinental range would be very interesting as
So who knows.