Air Force Releases RFP For Replacement To Nuclear Air Launched Cruise Missile

USAF News:

The U.S. Air Force released today a request for proposals to industry for its Long Range Standoff, or LRSO, nuclear cruise missile program. Up to two contract awards are expected in 4th quarter fiscal year 2017.

The Long Range Stand-Off weapon will be developed to replace the aging AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile. The AGM-86B was fielded in the early 1980s with a 10-year design life. The current ALCM remain safe, secure and effective, it is facing increasingly sustainment and operational challenges against evolving threats. 

LRSO’s range, survivability, reliability and credibility are key elements of the air-delivered leg of the U.S. Strategic Nuclear deterrent. Nuclear-capable bombers armed with standoff missiles provide the nuclear triad a clear, visible and tailorable deterrent effect, and deny geographic sanctuaries to any potential adversary.  In addition, LRSO will provide a rapid and flexible hedge against changes in the strategic environment. 

“The LRSO will be a reliable, flexible, long-ranging, and survivable weapon system to complement the nuclear Triad. LRSO will ensure the bomber force can continue to hold high-value targets at risk in an evolving threat environment, to include targets within an area-denial environment,” said Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, to the Senate Armed Forces Committee in February. 

The Air Force plans to start fielding LRSO by 2030. 

“Maintaining an air-delivered standoff and direct attack capability is vital to meeting our strategic and extended deterrence commitments and denying geographic sanctuaries to potential adversaries,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander, to the House Armed Services Committee in February 2016. “The new LRSO is needed to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile, which has far exceeded its originally planned service life, is being sustained through a series of service life extension programs, and is required to support our B-52 bomber fleet.”

The RFP released today identifies the contract requirements and proposal instructions for the LRSO’s Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction, or TMRR, phase. After receipt of industry proposals, the Air Force will conduct a source selection and award contracts to up to two prime contractors. The prime contractors will execute a 54-month effort to complete a preliminary design with demonstrated reliability and manufacturability, which will be followed by a competitive down-select to a single contractor. 

The LRSO weapon system will be a cost-effective force multiplier for B-52, B-2, and B-21 aircraft to credibly deter adversaries and assure U.S. allies of our deterrent capabilities.

“LRSO is a critical element of the United States’ nuclear deterrence strategy. Releasing this solicitation is a critical step toward affordably recapitalizing the aging air leg of the nuclear triad,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson, commander of Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Strategic Systems. 

The AFNWC is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command. Headquartered at Kirtland, the center has about 1,000 personnel assigned at 18 locations worldwide.

News release link:

Note:  The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is headquartered at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Part of Air Force Materiel Command, it has about 1,000 employees at 18 locations worldwide, including Hill AFB, Utah, where the GBSD program office is located.

Fact Sheet

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC), established on March 31, 2006, is the nuclear-focused center within Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of the AFMC Commander in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC).

Headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, the center has approximately 1,000 personnel assigned at 18 locations worldwide and consists of four execution directorates: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Systems Directorate (NI), Air Delivered Capabilities Directorate (ND), Nuclear Technology and Interagency Directorate (NT), and the Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Integration Directorate (NC), as well as 10 staff functional directorates. The center draws on the support of over 800 contractors in accomplishing its mission.

AFNWC Mission:
Deliver nuclear capabilities Warfighters use every day to deter and assure.

AFNWC Vision:
Ensuring our Nation’s most powerful weapon systems are never doubted, always feared.

We are:
“The Nucleus of America’s Deterrent”

AFNWC Strategic Goals:
– Resource, develop, and care for a diverse, mission-driven workforce
– Acquire and sustain effective nuclear weapon systems in a timely and cost effective manner
– Provide agile and effective Nuclear Materiel Management in support of AFGSC, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and other stakeholders

Key Organizations

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems Directorate (NI)
The ICBM Systems Directorate is principally located at Hill AFB, Utah, with operating locations at Vandenberg AFB, California; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and Minot AFB, North Dakota. It is comprised of approximately 70 active-duty military and 400 federal civilians. The directorate is responsible for inception-to-retirement, integrated weapons system management of the Minuteman III and future ICBM weapon systems. The directorate develops, acquires and supports silo-based ICBMs and provides program direction and logistics support as the single face to the customer. The directorate is also responsible for acquisition, systems engineering and depot repair. They manage equipment spares, provide storage and transportation, and accomplish modifications and equipment replacement to sustain silo-based ICBM systems.

Air Delivered Capabilities Directorate (ND)
The Air Delivered Capabilities Directorate’s mission is to deliver, sustain and support air-delivered nuclear weapon systems for our warfighters to secure the future of our nation and our allies, every day. The directorate is comprised of approximately 38 active-duty military and 183 federal civilians, and is located at Kirtland AFB. Programs managed by the directorate include: B61-12 Life Extension Program, Long Range Stand Off missile, W80-4 Life Extension Program, overseas Weapon Storage and Security System; Protective Aircraft Shelter Interior Intrusion Detection System; and Air Launched Cruise Missile (AGM-86B/C/D) sustainment. The directorate oversees locations at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma; Eglin AFB, Florida; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; Ramstein AFB, Germany; Robins AFB, Georgia; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Nuclear Technology and Interagency Directorate (NT)
The Nuclear Technology and Interagency Directorate is located at Kirtland AFB and is comprised of approximately 25 active-duty military and 90 federal civilians. The directorate is responsible for providing intelligence support to AFNWC, analyzing the full spectrum of weapons effects to support acquisition programs and inform tactics and procedures, and assessing current and future nuclear systems to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities. The directorate is also responsible for managing the Air Force’s Nuclear Certification Program in accordance with AFI 63-125, chairing the interagency forums responsible for coordinating the integration of nuclear warheads with delivery systems, and leading the capability development initiatives for all pre-Milestone A/B activities within the center.

Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Integration Directorate (NC) 
The Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) Integration Directorate is currently being activated and will be principally located at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts, and Kirtland AFB.  It will eventually include personnel at Los Angeles AFB, California; Hill AFB, Utah; Tinker AFB; Barksdale AFB, Louisiana; Robins AFB; Wright-Patterson AFB; and Fort Meade, Maryland. Once fully manned, the directorate will be comprised of approximately six active-duty military and 57 federal civilians. It will be responsible for integrating the NC3 weapon system across the Air Force’s materiel management enterprise. The directorate will advise AFGSC on the NC3 weapon system’s technical architecture and inform key decisions regarding NC3 investment and modernization. The directorate will also be responsible for NC3 weapon system configuration management, system test, system verification, and system certification. Its director is dual-hatted as the Program Executive Officer for the specific constituent elements of the Air Force NC3 Weapon System assigned by the Air Force Service Acquisition Executive.

(Current as of May 2016)