US Air Force has tested three unarmed AGM-86B air-launched cruise missiles (ACLM) from a B-52H bomber.
The B-52H aircrews departed Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, for the Utah Test and Training Range, about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City, and launched the unarmed ALCMs during three separate sorties, US Air Force Material Command announced in a statement Thursday.
The AGM-86B is designed to deliver a nuclear payload on target, destroying it on impact. As a standoff weapon, the ALCM can be launched from outside the combat area, allowing aircrews to strike distant targets with a high degree of accuracy without exposing themselves to potentially deadly enemy fire.
A B-52H can carry six ALCMs on each of the two externally-mounted pylons and eight internally on a rotary launcher, giving the B-52H a maximum capacity of 20 missiles.
The ALCM sustainment program is managed by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and the tests were conducted under Air Force Global Strike Command’s Nuclear Weapon System Evaluation Program, part of the Air Force’s ongoing effort to test weapons systems in training missions.
The integrated test team also included personnel, assets and aircraft from AFGSC's 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, its 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and Air Combat Command's 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida.
The Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) weapon is being developed to replace the ALCM, which the Air Force expects to start fielding by 2030.
Currently in source selection, up to two LRSO contracts are expected to be awarded in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.