In an apparent bid to continue moving forward with the development of more sophisticated weapon systems, the United States Air Force has retired the last conventional air-launched cruise missile or CALCM. The system, which was hosted by USAF units out of Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, has been demilitarized as of Nov. 20.

The USAF is working on several advanced long-range standoff weapons. International Business Times recently reported that the B-52 Stratofortress is being considered as a top candidate for a new platform called an “Arsenal Aircraft.” There are no specific details of a replacement for this weapon system as of yet.

CALCM was designed back in the 70s but saw its first use in the opening salvos of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, where seven B-52 Stratofortress took off from Barksdale Air Force Base on their way to Iraq. That squadron of aircraft fired 35 cruise missiles, starting the campaign against Saddam Hussein by taking out specified targets. This was the first time in military history that GPS had guided a rocket to its target successfully in combat.

Tomahawk cruise missile
Raytheon, which makes Tomahawk cruise missiles, may sell more of them because of the Syria situation. Reuters

An Air Force source confirms to International Business Times that weapon systems of this nature are being retired quickly as new hypersonic weapon systems have been developed and have proven to be lighter in weight and easier to load. This means that the USAF are leaning toward smaller weapons that pack a bigger punch and have better technology. Further, despite the success of the weapon system, the Chinese and Russian militaries have developed counter weapon systems that can defend against weapons like CALCM, rendering them functionally obsolete.

This is not the last time that we will see a weapon system of this nature be decommissioned across the military as new weapon systems with more advanced technology are released. According to a report by Defense Blog, the system had been deployed over 1,500 times since 1991, but there are no details available about its actual use in missions other than the initial information about the Gulf War.

It is always sad to see such a successful system retired, but this paves the way for new and better systems.