On June 7, Lockheed Martin [LMT] said it had received a U.S. Air Force contract for Phase 1 of the Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) competition. A day later, L3Harris [LHX] said so, and on June 9, Northrop Grumman [NOC] did.

All three contracts are to last three months, the companies said.

But the Air Force has yet to put out a general announcement about the contracts, nor to answer why the above firms released some contract information, but not the amounts, before the Air Force.

L3Harris said that its Agile Development Group (ADG) is leading the company’s SiAW effort and that ADG is leveraging its digital engineering development environment, “which they developed to rapidly design, test and manufacture advanced sensors and weapon systems.”

ADG has several thousand engineers, program managers, technicians and “operations professionals” who work on military and commercial programs, the company said.

SiAW is to operate in anti-access/area denial environments to strike mobile targets, including enemy missile launchers, GPS jammers, anti-satellite systems, and integrated air defense systems.

The Air Force requested nearly $78 million in procurement for 42 SiAWs in fiscal 2023. Each SiAW, which the Lockheed Martin F-35A is to carry, would cost more than $1.5 million (Defense Daily, June 7).

Air Force plans call for fielding 3,000 SiAWs at a cost of $8.6 billion. The service’s future years defense plan calls for production of SiAW to dip to 14 in fiscal 2024 before climbing to 128 weapons in fiscal 2025 for $208 million, then dropping to 116 in fiscal 2026 and 50 in fiscal 2027.

L3Harris said that the Air Force had “originally considered an upgrade to the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) but instead opted to open the [SiAW] competition to additional companies capable of integrating weapon systems.”

Northrop Grumman builds AARGM-ER.

The Navy is to deliver 1,803 AARGMs to the Navy through fiscal 2024, as the service transitions to the AARGM-ER for use on the Boeing [BA] F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and the E/A-18G Growler (Defense Daily, Apr. 4).

AARGM-ER, which entered engineering and manufacturing development in March 2019, is to use the dual mode seeker, navigation and active and passive sensors of AARGM and to feature innovations to allow AARGM-ER to suppress and kill advanced, mobile surface-to-air missiles.

The AARGM-ER has a new solid rocket motor, a new warhead, and tail control fins with a control actuator system, whereas the AARGM design relies on mid-body control.

Northrop Grumman said on June 9 that its design for the Air Force SiAW leverages the company’s AARGM-ER design and the weapon integration work the company is doing for the F-35.

Northrop Grumman said that it “has flown and successfully validated its [SiAW] capabilities against relevant, integrated air defense targets” and that it “will continue to assess its [SiAW] offering through the use of digital engineering and prove its capabilities with more stressing flight test scenarios culminating with a missile launch this year.”

Former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper had discussed his desire for a fully digital weapon in 2020, and Lockheed Martin said on June 7 that SiAW is “the service’s first fully digital weapons acquisition and development program. ”

“SiAW is an air-to-ground weapon that will provide strike capability against a variety of targets, and maintain superiority and freedom to maneuver in the air domain,” Lockheed Martin said on June 7. “The first phase of the SiAW program will focus on digital engineering, subsystem integration and system design, and will also emphasize agility and innovation. The digital SiAW program will produce a survivable, lethal and high-speed weapon for current and fifth generation aircraft including the F-35 to attack ground targets.”

The SiAW design by Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division is to leverage “advanced digital engineering pioneered within Skunk Works.”

Last August, Lockheed Martin completed a 215,000 square foot plant in Palmdale, Calif., that will use construction robots for Skunk Works projects, 85 percent of which are classified, the company said (Defense Daily, Aug. 13, 2021).

Near term plans call for Lockheed Martin to start building SiAW and integrating it internally and externally on the F-35A under a five-year rapid prototyping effort, the company said.

Jason Reynolds, the vice president of advanced programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a company statement that “integrating SiAW on the F-35 will add more multi-role mission capabilities and bring new cohesive technologies to the sophisticated F-35 suite.”