The US Air Force is expecting to award sole-source contracts to four firms to develop technology for its Long Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile programme.
Contracts will be awarded to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. "These firm fixed-price contracts will procure trade studies in support of the Long Range Standoff program in preparation for the Technology Development Phase," reads a US government contract solicitation notice. "The Government intends to solicit, negotiate and award to the contractors listed above using other than full and open competition procedures."
The new missile will most likely replace the aging and ever dwindling arsenal of nuclear and conventionally armed AGM-86 air launched cruise missiles. It will also likely replace the stealthy AGM-129, which is a somewhat newer design.
Responses to the tender must be in by 20 December. "The solicitation is further evidence that the air force is serious about fielding the next generation long-range strike family of systems, which will likely include standoff cruise missiles capable of penetrating contested airspace," says Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments/.../
Gunzinger says he hopes that the new programme leads to a joint developmental effort with the US Navy to replace that service's Tomahawk cruise missiles. "Hopefully, this might become a joint programme that will produce a cruise missile that could be launched from US Navy as well as air force platforms," he says.