The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a new technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) contract for its airborne launch control system-replacement (ALCS-R) programme.
Under the terms of the $81m contract, Lockheed Martin will be responsible for delivering a design and functional prototype to replace the traditional airborne launch control system (ALCS) on-board the E-6B Mercury airborne command post.
The USAF’s ALCS-R programme, scheduled for fielding by 2024, will offer a survivable alternate launch capability for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
The upgrade will enable the ALCS to command and control the future ground-based strategic deterrent missile system that is expected to replace the ICBMs, beginning in the late 2020s.
Lockheed Martin Space Mission Solutions vice-president and general manager Vinny Sica said: “ALCS-R provides the future generation of assured communication and secure command and control for America’s ground-based nuclear missiles.
“We recognise the importance of modernising the nation’s nuclear command and control systems to ensure total system resiliency and enhanced nuclear deterrence.”
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The scope of the upgrade programme includes the modernisation of radios, launch control systems, and cryptographic devices.
Ruggedised and hardened, the new system will be integrated with modern technologies that will be upgradeable through 2075.
The system will also use advanced cybersecurity techniques to protect it from attack.
The company has collaborated with L3 Technologies, which is responsible for leading the development of the secure communications architecture for the ALCS-R system.