The Long-Range Stand-Off weapon, a vital strategic weapon in the US arsenal, is only about one year into its nine-year development schedule, a senior executive at Lockheed Martin recently told military.com. The LRSO will replace the Air-Launched Cruise Missile in the US suite of air assault capabilities.
"The program of record remains 54 months, [another] 54 months, and then five years of production," according to Frank St. John, executive vice president of Lockheed's missile division. While there have been talks of accelerating production of the missile, St. John said engineers can "go faster, but not appreciably faster."
A few months could get shaved from the development schedule, but because of the extremely low risk tolerance with nukes, the nine-year timeline is poised to remain intact.
The speed at which the weapon can be completed is determined by how fast the payload can be developed, says the executive, and it would be pointless to have the weapon before having the right payload. Even once development is complete, St. John said, "there's a lot of simulation work that goes on" in addition to time-intensive weapon certification protocols.
"How do you make sure that the weapon is only ever going to do exactly what you want it to do and never have any kind of mishap?" St. John queried to illustrate the precise attention to detail required for the project.
The framework of the project leaves no room for error: this is what "drives the deadline and timeframe," according to St. John.