Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircrews recently tested three unarmed AGM-86B air-launched cruise missiles, demonstrating the bomber force’s ability to configure, load, fly and deliver the nation’s only nuclear cruise missile.
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.
The ALCM is a key air component of the nuclear triad, providing the nation a strategic capability to assure our allies and deter potential adversaries. It provides a clear, visible and tailorable deterrent effect, and denies geographic sanctuaries to potential adversaries.
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 and prepare aircrews for future mission requirements. The integrated test team also included personnel, assets and…