March 14 (UPI) — Boeing was awarded a $250 million contract to integrate a new air-launched cruise missile system on the Air Force’s B-52H bomber aircraft platform.
The contract, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, provides aircraft and missile carriage equipment development and modification, engineering, testing, software development, training, facilities and support necessary for the Long Range Stand-Off Cruise Missile weapon system.
The Air Force plans to replace the AGM-86B cruise missile, which has been in service since the early 1980s, with the LRSO. Currently, the B-52H can carry up to 20 air-launched cruise missiles, according to the U.S. Air Force.
Work will be performed at Boeing’s Oklahoma City plant and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2024.
Fiscal 2019 research and development funds in the amount of $6.3 million are being obligated at the time of award.
Last year, Congress approved funding of nearly $665 million for the LRSO system, $655 million to extend the life of the W80 warhead and nearly $540 million to sustain the existing fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the release said.
In 2017, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon were awarded a $900 million contract each to conduct technology maturation and risk reduction efforts for the LRSO program.
The eight-engine, 390,000-pound-jet, known as the Stratofortress, was the United States’ first long-range, swept-wing heavy bomber and flew for the first time in 1952, according to Boeing.
The B-52 can fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet for more than 10,000 miles, and deploy a variety of weapons in the U.S. aerial arsenal.
The last H model model was produced in 1962 but the jets are in the Air Force inventory with the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., and the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. The aircraft is also assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 307th Bomb Wing at Barksdale.