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2022 Year in Review

SEI Lends Expertise to Key Air Force Missile System Acquisition

Modernizing nuclear deterrence systems is a top priority of the 2022 U.S. National Defense Strategy. To support this strategy, the Air Force Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) System Program Office (SPO) is replacing the air-launched cruise missile inventory of the air-based leg of the nuclear triad.

To navigate this complex acquisition, the LRSO SPO engaged the SEI to help it execute a software acquisition strategy that uses modern software development practices to reduce technical risk early in the Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase of the program. The LRSO SPO has also been working with the SEI to determine how and where to utilize innovations in platform cyber resiliency, automation, and best practices to meet new platform requirements while reducing projected lifecycle costs.

“The underlying theme for the support we’re providing the SPO is a determined focus on brilliance in the basics and fearless technical innovations that set this program up for success,” said the SEI’s Stephen Beck, Advanced Deterrents Initiative lead. “We’re working closely with government stakeholders across the United States Air Force and engineers throughout the SPO to ensure that software and systems engineering are programmatically optimized to reduce overall risk and to exploit opportunities.” With the SEI’s help, the program remains solidly on track to achieve initial operational capability (IOC).

Over the past fiscal year alone, SEI experts helped the SPO with a broad slate of software acquisition, engineering, and security tasks. They clarified and formalized the establishment of independent nuclear certification for advanced embedded weapon systems. They also established and exercised the engineering, architectural, and communication pathways for moving system nuclear certification forward to meet a demanding IOC date. Throughout the effort, they meticulously created and nurtured an enduring technical engagement culture with the principal developer, grounded in unimpeachable trust, software formalism, and disciplined engineering.

The SEI team’s depth of knowledge and commitment to the project enabled it to implement this robust program in a compressed time frame. “Though embedded within the LRSO SPO, I have ready access to expertise throughout the SEI,” noted David Walbeck, the SEI’s LRSO technical lead. “The software and systems engineering impacts our team has achieved, with a comparatively modest budget, have been dramatic.”


The SEI helped the LRSO SPO execute the software acquisition strategy on many fronts:

  • advancing digital twin technologies and development in association with the prime contractor

  • creating technical synergies through close collaboration with other labs to advance model-based systems engineering

  • continuing to mature the LRSO digital engineering strategy to exploit advances in system and software engineering

  • advising program leadership on the degree of software technical debt accrued and its relation to cost, schedule, performance, and risk

  • helping the SPO balance the needs for mission success, safety, and security in software assurance while maintaining an aggressive development schedule

  • bringing the depth and breadth of the SEI’s experience across the DoD to improved cross-program collaboration, eliminating costly repetitive iterations on activities common to all programs