The U.S. Air Force announced Raytheon Missiles & Defense will continue with the next phase of development of the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), a strategic weapon capable of carrying nuclear and conventional weapons, which will replace the legacy air-launched cruise missile.

The Air Force had awarded Raytheon and Lockheed Martin contracts for the technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) phase of the program in 2017. Following the preliminary design review, the Air Force chose to proceed with Raytheon as the sole prime contractor.

Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris, who leads the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, said, “Our competitive TMRR phase, which included both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon as the prime contractors, enabled us to select a high-confidence design at this point in the acquisition process,” according to an Air Force release.

The Raytheon LRSO team passed its preliminary design review and plans to complete the TMRR phase of the development process by January 2022. Contract negotiations for the engineering and manufacturing development phase will start in fiscal year 2021, beginning October 1, and the contract award is expected during fiscal year 2022.

“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.