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Air Force Eyes Studies on Future Nuclear Cruise Missile: The Air Force announced that it intends to award contracts to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon for each company to study performance attributes of the next-generation nuclear cruise missile that the service intends to develop and field. Each company is expected to receive a fixed-price contract for these trade studies, which will support the technology development phase of the Long Range Standoff, or LRSO, program, states the notice posted at the Federal Business opportunities website on Dec. 5. LRSO is envisioned as the successor to the Air Launched Cruise Missile that B-52s carry as an element of the US strategic nuclear deterrent. In late March, senior service officials told Congress that the LRSO acquisition program would start in Fiscal 2015, two years later than originally planned, due to service-wide budgetary constraints. However, the LRSO analysis of alternatives was still scheduled for completion early in this fiscal year, and there was no gap anticipated between LRSO and ALCM, which is expected to remain viable out to 2030 or beyond, they said.