The U.S. Air Force is mulling whether to develop and build a new standoff weapon and may conduct an analysis of alternatives (AoA).
The armaments directorate disruptive futures division of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC/EBZ) at Eglin AFB, Fla., plans to hold an industry day on the Stand-off Attack Weapon (SoAW) at Eglin on Sept. 27.
The division “is conducting market research” for a SoAW AoA, per a request for information business notice last month. “AFCLCMC/EBZ seeks to better characterize the technological, manufacturing, and business capabilities of the industrial base to develop and produce a material solution to address this operational objective. AFLCMC/EBZ will use this information to inform its trade space analysis of weapon systems that can potentially meet SoAW requirements.”
The Air Force wants to hear from interested companies what development is needed for the rapid prototyping, integration and initial fielding of SoAW between fiscal 2030 and fiscal 2033.
“Assume government funded prototyping and demonstration activities may begin in FY25,” the business notice said. “Provide a notional schedule in terms of the number of months for design, material procurement, fabrication/assembly, ground test (hardware and software), platform integration, and flight test. Provide a notional contractor average unit production price for the weapon concept, assuming a production quantity of 500, 1,000, and 1,500 units.”
The Air Force has been moving toward ramping up the Lockheed Martin [LMT] Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Munitions Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and the future Raytheon Technologies [RTX] nuclear Long Range Standoff Missile (LRSO).
In addition, a prototype Lockheed Martin AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) scored its second booster flight test success in July off the southern California coast, and the Air Force said that ARRW will move to all-up-round testing this year (Defense Daily, July 13).
The July test marked the second flight test success for the prototype ARRW after three aborted attempts last year.
ARRW is to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets and enable rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.
But Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has said that he wants more analysis on the cost and operational effectiveness of hypersonic missiles.
Kendall has said that air-breathing hypersonic missile designs, such as the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile, using scramjet engines have shown more promise thus far for the U.S. than hypersonic glide vehicles, like ARRW.
Last year, Air Force Materiel Command said that it was re-directing funds from technologies to address low-end conflicts to standoff weapons efforts, such as JASSM-ER, to address advanced technology adversaries, such as China and Russia (Defense Daily, June 7, 2021).