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Lockheed Martin to Modernise USAF Airborne Launch Control Systems

$81 Million for Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction

The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Lockheed Martin an $81 million Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) contract to design and provide a functional prototype to replace the legacy Airborne Launch Control System, the company announced on 31 January.

The Airborne Launch Control System – Replacement (ALCS-R) will modernise capability for the USAF’s E-6B MERCURY Airborne Command Post aircraft. It will provide a survivable alternate launch capability for MINUTEMAN III ballistic missiles and will provide C2 for the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missile system slated to replace MINUTEMAN III from the late 2020s. ALCS-R, a key component in US nuclear modernisation, is scheduled for fielding by 2024.

Under the TMRR phase of the program, Lockheed Martin will produce a comprehensive design and prototype of the new ALCS-R system. The Air Force’s overall modernisation plan for ALCS includes upgraded radios, launch control systems and cryptographic devices. The new system will use modern technologies that will be upgradeable through 2075 and will be ruggedised and hardened, employing modern cyber security techniques to protect the system from attack. 

ALCS-R provides the future generation of assured communication and secure command and control for America’s ground based nuclear missiles,” commented Vinny Sica, Vice President and General Manager for Mission Solutions at Lockheed Martin Space. “We recognise the importance of modernising the nation’s nuclear command and control systems to ensure total system resiliency and enhanced nuclear deterrence. We are proud to partner with the Air Force to achieve this critical mission capability.”

Lockheed Martin is teamed with L3 Technologies, who will lead the development of the secure communications architecture for ALCS-R. “Working closely with Lockheed Martin on this important programme will provide the needed encryption and communications to enable this system to be successful for the customer,” explained Andy Ivers, Senior Vice President and President, L3 Communication Systems Segment for L3 Technologies. The company has been a leader in waveform, communications and cryptographic equipment development for over 60 years, and will build on that legacy as a partner on the ALCS-R programme.

Tim Mahon


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