Cruise Missile’s Start Slips

The Air Force’s Fiscal 2013 budget request delays by two years—to Fiscal 2015—the start of the Long Range Standoff Missile, the service’s future nuclear-capable cruise missile, two generals told lawmakers last week. LRSO, as it is known, is the planned successor to the Air Launched Cruise Missile, which B-52s carry as an essential part of the US strategic nuclear deterrent. The Air Force slipped LRSO’s start “as part of the adjustments necessary in our constrained fiscal environment,” Maj. Gen. William Chambers, Air Staff lead for nuclear matters, told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel on March 28. “Despite the LRSO delay, there will not be a gap between ALCM and LRSO,” he noted. That’s because service life-extension programs are in progress for ALCM “to ensure its viability beyond 2030,” said Chambers. They address the cruise missile’s propulsion, guidance and flight-control systems, and warhead-arming components, he said. Meanwhile, work on the LRSO analysis of alternatives continues and “will be completed in late 2012,” said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, head of Air Force Global Strike Command. (Chambers’ written testimony) (Kowalski’s prepared testimony) (See also Speed Matters.)