The AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile is a low-level, penetrating nuclear strike weapon for use against strategic surface targets. ALCM’s small radar signature and low-level flight capability enhance the missile’s effectiveness.
The nuclear AGM-86B was the first production version with a total of 1,715 delivered through 1986. USAF plans to cut the inventory from its current level to an eventual 528 ALCM. Some ALCMs were modified for conventional use with INS/GPS-guidance and a blast fragmentation warhead and redelivered in 1987 as the AGM-86C CALCM.
CALCM was operationally employed for the first time in Desert Storm and widely used in subsequent operations. CALCM was capable of adverse weather, day/ night, air-to-surface, accurate, standoff strike capability at ranges greater than 500 miles. The AGM-86D was CALCM’s Block II penetrator version with AUP-3(M) warhead used for standoff strikes on hardened, deeply buried targets in Afghanistan.
CALCM was retired in early 2019 and the inventory is stored at Barksdale awaiting disposal. ALCM is undergoing SLEP/component remanufacture to stretch its in-service life to 2030, allowing for replacement by the Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) missile.
USAF awarded Lockheed Martin and Raytheon technology-maturation and risk-reduction contracts for the LRSO in 2017, with Raytheon’s design emerging as the focus of USAF’s continued development last year. Plans call for fielding the nuclear missile by the late 2020s, possibly followed by a conventional derivative thereafter.
First Flight: June 1979 (full-scale development).
IOC: December 1982 (B); January 1991 (C); November 2001 (D).
Inventory: 536 (B), 186 (C), 34 (D).
Unit Location: Barksdale AFB, La.; Minot AFB, N.D.
Active Variant: •AGM-86B. Nuclear ALCM variant.
Dimensions: Span 12 ft, length 20.8 ft, body diameter 2 ft.
Weight: 3,150 lb.
Power Plant: Williams/Teledyne CAE F107-WR-10 turbofan, 600 lb thrust.
Performance: Speed 550 mph, range 1,500+ miles (B).
Guidance: Inertial plus Terrain Contour Matching (B).
Warhead: W80-1 nuclear warhead (B).
Estimated Yield: W80-1 warhead: five-150 kilotons (preselectable).