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U.S. starts development of new nuclear cruise missile

Posted August. 25, 2017 08:42,   

Updated August. 25, 2017 08:54


The U.S. Air Force has started the development of a new air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) armed with a nuclear warhead. As key U.S. military commanders, including Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, visited South Korea at the same time to declare the U.S. commitment to mobilizing all strategic assets to protect the ally, the planned development of a new ALCM is expected to significantly beef up the U.S. nuclear umbrella for South Korea.

The U.S. Air Force awarded two separate contracts, each amounting to 900 million U.S. dollars, to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to develop a new nuclear cruise missile to be mounted on the B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers and the next-generation B-21 strategic bomber, which is being developed. The U.S. Air Force said it plans to test prototypes developed by the two defense companies and select one to replace the current nuclear cruise missile by the late 2020s.

Reportedly, the aging AGM-86B ALCM was deployed to active duty in the early 1980s and has long exceeded its planned 10-year service life. The new nuclear cruise missile will significantly surpass the current system in terms of range, speed and destructive power.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com