April 20 (UPI) -- Raytheon Co. will remain the U.S. military's sole-source contractor of the nuclear Long-Range Standoff cruise missile, the U.S. Air Force announced.
Raytheon Missile and Defense on Monday announced that its LRSO design passed its preliminary design review.
The company also said its program to complete the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction, or TMRR, phase of the process is on schedule for completion in January 2022.
"After an extensive evaluation of contractor programmatic and technical approach during the TMRR's preliminary design reviews, the Air Force decided to focus on Raytheon's design," the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center said Friday in a statement.
In August 2017, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin each received $900 million contracts from the Department of Defense to develop versions of the LRSO missile, a strategic weapon designed to replace the AGM-86 air-launched cruise missile. The upgrade is meant to develop a missile capable of penetrating and surviving modern enemy air defense systems, and adaptable for delivery on a range of aircraft.
"LRSO will be a critical contributor to the air-launched portion of America's nuclear triad," said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles and Defense. "Providing a modernized capability to the U.S. Air Force will strengthen our nation's deterrence posture."
Contract negotiations for engineering and manufacturing development will begin in 2021, with an expected contract award in 2022, Raytheon said.
A 2017 study by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on development of the U.S. triad of land, sea and air offensive weapons noted that the LRSO is LRSO is "probably critical to the long-term viability of the bomber force in the nuclear role."
"The B-52, our most numerous bomber for at least the next 15 years, is completely dependent on long-range cruise missiles and cannot continue in the nuclear mission beyond 2030 without LRSO," the report said.