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Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM)
Produced in 1985, the AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM) was a low-observable (stealthy), subsonic, turbofan-powered, air-launched cruise missile originally designed and built by General Dynamics. The ACM was only an inch longer than the ALCM but about 550 pounds heavier, and its range was significantly greater than the ALCM’s. Like the ALCM, it carried a thermonuclear warhead. This missile was carried exclusively by B-52H Stratofortress bombers. Each one could carry up to six AGM-129A missiles on each of two external pylons for a total of 12 per aircraft. Originally, an additional 8 ACMs could be carried internally on the Common Strategic Rotary Launcher, for a total of 20 per aircraft. The B-1B bomber was also slated to carry the AGM-129A, but that plan ended when the Cold War did. The first test missile flew in July 1985. The first production missiles were delivered to the USAF in 1987 and the ACM entered service in June 1990. Initially, plans called for producing enough missiles to replace the approximately 1,461 AGM-86B ALCMs at a rate of 200 missiles per year after full-rate production was achieved in 1993, but in January 1992 the end of the Cold War resulted in a major cutback in total ACM procurement. The President determined that only 640 missiles were needed. Later, that number was reduced to just 460. In August 1992, General Dynamics sold its missile business to Hughes Aircraft Corporation, and five years later Hughes sold its aerospace and defense business to the final production contractor, Raytheon. Reductions in nuclear weapons mandated by the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) requirement to get below 2,200 deployed nuclear weapons by 2012 resulted in the 2007 decision to retire the entire inventory of ACMs because of the missile’s reliability issues and higher maintenance costs. The last missile was destroyed in April 2012.
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