Category Archives: Air

Hypersonic weapons

The B-1B Lancer’s expanded carriage capabilities comes one step closer to fruition following an external captive carry flight over the skies of Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California, November 20.

B-1B Lancer
A B-1B Lancer with a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) flies in the skies above Edwards Air Force Base, California, November 20. The flight was a demonstration of the B-1B’s external weapons carriage capabilities (Air Force photo by Ethan Wagner)

The flight featured a B-1B Lancer assigned to the 412th Test Wing’s 419th Flight Test Squadron, Global Power Combined Test Force, and carried an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile under an external pylon for the first time.

This demonstration may pave the way possibly for the B-1B Lancer to carry hypersonic weapons externally.

«Adapting a small number of our healthiest B-1s to carry hypersonic weapons is vital to bridge between the bomber force we have today, to the force of tomorrow», said General Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander. «This is a major step forward in our global precision fires capability and it is important we pursue these technologies to remain ahead of our competitors. My goal is to have a limited number of B-1s modified to become the roving linebacker of the western Pacific and the North Atlantic».

The captive carry flight was the culmination of the numerous ground tests that began with last year’s expanded carriage demonstration that included a modified internal bomb bay, which featured a moveable bulkhead. The demonstration showcased a configuration of the B-1B Lancer that would allow the aircraft to carry larger-sized weapons both internally and externally.

«We’re essentially displaying our external weapons carriage capability», said Major Bret Cunningham, a B-1B Lancer test pilot with the 419th FLTS. «We have a JASSM weapon on what is traditionally the targeting pod pylon on the forward right hard point, so we are demonstrating that the B-1B Lancer has the capability to carry weapons and employ them externally».

This extensive engineering review will help the Air Force understand areas where it needs to focus on to maintain the B-1B Lancer as a multi-mission weapon system, potentially laying the groundwork for integration of future weapons on the aircraft.

The B-1B Lancer was initially designed to incorporate a moveable bulkhead and usable external hard points for its original nuclear mission, however the U.S. shifted the Lancer’s mission to conventional weapons in 1994. The physical conversion to conventional-only armaments started in 2007 with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and was finished in 2011.

The current expanded carriage demonstrations will keep the aircraft compliant with the New START agreement, which means the Lancer can once again utilize those features while delivering conventional weapons.

«Since the long bay demo last year this has really been our key focus point in 2020; getting ready for this external weapons release demo as kind of the next step in that progression towards external weapons carriage and hypersonic capabilities for the B-1B Lancer», Cunningham said. «We’re pretty close to the culmination of this demo event and reaching that next milestone».

The demonstration could mean a potential boon for combatant commanders as the increase in weapons stores remedies an immediate shortfall due to the limited number of strategic bombers. The proposed increase in capacity means that two bombers would equal to three bombers’ worth of weapons.

Following the captive carry mission, engineers will then review the data gathered from the flight before moving on to the next of phase of the demonstration; an external weapons release.

«For us, we’re looking to do this safely, since this is the first time, we will release a weapon from the external hard point in over 30 years», said Agustin Martinez, project test lead. «So, we pretty much focused on doing a safe build up approach…to make sure the JASSM and the B-1B Lancer are communicating correctly; the JASSM has correct surface deployment timelines so once it does get released it will safely separate».

Engineers within the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) enterprise, B-1B Lancer system program office and Boeing will verify both the weapon’s and pylon’s integration with the B-1B Lancer. They are also interested in the physical effects, software, and flying qualities of the new shape on the outer mold line of the aircraft, Cunningham explained.

«The Air Force Test Center is enthusiastically teaming with Global Strike to enable greater flexibility in B-1B Lancer operational payloads», said Major General Christopher Azzano, AFTC commander. «The external carriage and long-bay mods reflect our ability to keep weapon systems relevant with mid-life upgrades».

AFTC has a long history of certifying external carriage weapons, Azzano added.

That history of test success and uniqueness of the mission is not lost on testers such as Cunningham and his B-1B Lancer flight crew.

«This is a great example of how we are accelerating change to meet our adversaries, and the engineers and operators should be commended for their work in getting this demonstration completed», Ray added. «We will continue to invest in and modernize the bomber fleet while increasing the lethality of our global precision fires to be anywhere and anytime».

This demonstration does not affect the Air Force’s request to retire 17 B-1B Lancer bombers in 2021.

Advanced Hawkeye

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of France of three (3) E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
France has awarded an order worth about $2 billion for three Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AEW aircraft, seen here during a test, to replace the earlier E-2Cs that operate from the French Navy carrier Charles de Gaulle (FR Navy photo)

The Government of France requests to buy three (3) E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft, ten (10) T-56-427A engines (6 installed and 4 spares), three (3) AN/APY-9 radar assemblies, four (4) AN/ALQ-217 electronic support measure systems (3 installed and 1 spare), three (3) AN/AYK-27 Integrated Navigation Channels and Display Systems, five (5) Link-16 (MIDS-JTRS) Communications Systems (3 installed and 2 spares), ten (10) Embedded GPS/INS (EGI) Devices (6 installed and 4 spares), four (4) AN/APX-122(A) and AN/APX-123(A) Identification, Friend or Foe systems (3 installed and 1 spare) and one (1) Joint Mission Planning System. Also included are Common Systems Integration Laboratories with/Test Equipment, one in Melbourne, FL, and the other in France; air and ground crew equipment; support equipment; spare and repair parts; publications and technical documentation; transportation; training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor logistics, engineering, and technical support services; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $2 billion.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve security of a NATO ally which is an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

The proposed sale will improve France’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing its Naval Air Forces with a sustainable follow on capability to their current, legacy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft will continue and expand French naval aviation capabilities and maintain interoperability with U.S. naval forces. As a current E-2C Hawkeye operator, France will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman Systems Corp, Aerospace Systems, Melbourne, Florida. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the Purchaser and the prime contractor.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to France.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness resulting from this proposed sale.

French Albatros

During a visit to the Dassault Aviation plant in Seclin, in northern France, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, today announced the upcoming notification of the contract for the «Albatros» Maritime Surveillance and Intervention Aircraft (AVSIMAR) program, which will be based on the Dassault Aviation Falcon 2000LXS. In accordance with the multiyear military spending bill (LPM), the initial order is for seven aircraft, to be delivered from 2025, out of the planned total of 12.

Falcon 2000 Albatros
Falcon 2000 Albatros for the French Navy

Dassault Aviation and the dozens of French companies associated with the Falcon programs would like to thank the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy for their confidence.

The Falcon 2000 Albatros will feature a multifunction radar under the fuselage, a high-performance optronic turret, observation windows, a SAR (Search & Rescue) kit release system and dedicated communication systems.

In line with the aeronautical maintenance transformation policy initiated by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Albatros contract commits Dassault Aviation to a guaranteed availability clause, favoring industrial support in close cooperation with Navy personnel for 10 years.

«The Falcon 2000 Albatros is a high-performance aircraft equipped with a mission system and sensors of the latest generation. From the Falcon 20 of the U.S. Coast Guard to the Falcon 2000MSA of the Japanese Coast Guard, as well as the Falcon 200 Gardian and 50M of the French Navy, we have extensive experience in maritime surveillance, in addition to our long experience in maritime patrol with the Atlantique», said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «Several countries have shown interest in these aircraft, which provide an effective response to the considerable challenges of homeland protection and maritime security and government action at sea: fighting pollution and trafficking, surveillance of borders and exclusion zones, fisheries policing, search and rescue at sea, etc. It is only fitting that France, which has the world’s second largest exclusive economic zone, should be at the forefront in the use of this type of aircraft».

The first Falcon 2000LXS aircraft on which the program will be based will be manufactured in France. The remainder will be produced in India as part of the offset arrangements related to the 2016 Rafale contract. The conversion of the 12 Falcon 2000LXS aircraft into the Albatros configuration will all be carried out in France.

Over the past 50 years, Dassault Aviation has modified many Falcon aircraft to adapt them for maritime surveillance, medical evacuation, cargo transport, calibration, intelligence-gathering, training, etc. These multi-role aircraft represent approximately 10% of the Falcon fleet in service. French government services operate Falcon 10, 200, 50, 900, 2000, 7X and soon 8X aircraft in a strategic intelligence version under the Archange contract.

These multi-role Falcon aircraft are a perfect example of the dual civil/military know-how of Dassault Aviation: they benefit from the cutting-edge technologies developed for our fighter aircraft and, at the same time, they take advantage of the industrial processes used for the highly competitive production of our business jets.

Missile for the Tiger

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly has announced that MBDA is to develop the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile (MAST-F) program as the main French Army air to ground armament for the Tiger combat helicopter.

MAST-F
MBDA to develop the combat missile for the Tiger helicopter

MBDA was selected after proposing to the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) its MHT/MLP concept (Missile Haut de Trame/Missile Longue Portée – high tier missile/long-range mobile missile) that builds on the technologies of the mid-range Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), the first 5th generation land combat missile to enter service around the world. Its modular architecture enables easy integration of the MHT/MLP onto a variety of land or air combat platforms in addition to the Tiger.

The MHT/MLP is characterised by its high operational effectiveness. Weighing 20% less than other missiles in its category provides a weight saving of nearly 100 kg/220 lbs. for the Tiger helicopter, which can carry up to eight missiles in combat configuration. Exploiting this weight saving increases the Tiger’s fuel capacity and so its combat endurance, with a significant gain in «Playtime».

The MHT/MLP has a range of over 8 km/5 miles, even when fired from a stationary platform at low altitude. Its multi-effect warhead can handle a wide variety of targets, from modern battle tanks to hardened combat infrastructure. The MHT/MLP performs day or night, including in Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) mode, with a two-way data link that sends images from the missile’s high-resolution visible and infrared optronic seeker back to the operator. The crew of the Tiger can use this imagery to choose the missile’s point of impact or to select a new target in flight, making the weapon suitable for fluid battlefield situations.

Commenting on the launch of the programme, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «The MHT/MLP missile combines new technologies, developed with the support of the DGA, with the tried and tested components of the MMP, making it an effector at the forefront of today’s tactical land combat missiles. It offers a flexibility of use unmatched in today’s armed forces, while minimising development risks. And with its all-European design authority, the MHT/MLP programme will fully contribute to the strategic autonomy objectives set by France and the European Union».

«With nearly 350 jobs per year over the next five years and, ultimately, around 250 annual jobs in France during the first 10 years of its production, the development and production of this new missile will help maintain of the national industrial and technological base, and in particular in the Centre region», he added.

NATO Phoenix

Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully ferried the fifth NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft, via a non-stop transatlantic flight. The aircraft departed on Wednesday, November 11 from Palmdale, California and landed nearly 20 hours later on November 12 at Sigonella Air Base, Sigonella, Italy.

NATO RQ-4D Phoenix
Northrop Grumman Enhances Alliance Security with Delivery of Fifth NATO RQ-4D Phoenix

The air vehicle is the last of five NATO RQ-4D aircraft, thus completing deliveries to the Main Operating Base (MOB) of the NATO AGS system of systems comprised of aircraft, ground and support segments. Work remains to complete Handover of the AGS System to the NATO AGS Force (NAGSF).

«Once the NATO AGS system achieves Handover, NATO Commanders will have greater flexibility and redundancy to support the mission of protecting ground troops, civilian populations and international borders in peacetime and times of conflict as well as humanitarian missions during natural disasters», said Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager, autonomous systems, Northrop Grumman.

The NATO AGS RQ-4D is based on the U.S. Air Force wide area surveillance Global Hawk. The high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned NATO AGS system, which includes the multi-platform radar technology insertion program radar, provides leading-edge intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability that is able to deliver near real-time situational awareness 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Led by Northrop Grumman, the NATO industry team is comprised of companies from across NATO’s member nations, including Leonardo, Airbus, and Kongsberg and other defence companies from all AGS Procuring Nations.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

German Quadriga

Airbus has signed a contract to deliver 38 new Eurofighter aircraft to the German Air Force. This makes Germany the largest ordering nation in Europe’s biggest defence programme. The order, also known by its project name Quadriga, covers the delivery of 30 single-seater and 8 twin-seater Eurofighters. Three of the aircraft will be equipped with additional test installations as Instrumented Test Aircraft for the further development of the Eurofighter programme.

Eurofighter
Airbus signs contract for 38 Eurofighters with Germany

Dirk Hoke, CEO Airbus Defence and Space, said: «The new Tranche 4 Eurofighter is currently the most modern European-built combat aircraft with a service life well beyond 2060. Its technical capabilities will allow full integration into the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS)».

The renewed order from Germany secures production until 2030 and comes at a strategically important time for the programme. In addition to an expected Eurofighter order from Spain to replace its legacy F-18s, procurement decisions in Switzerland and Finland are imminent in 2021.

The variant offered in Switzerland corresponds to the configuration of the German Quadriga order. The equipment includes the world’s latest electronic radar, future-proof hardware and software and unlimited multi-role capability for engaging air and ground targets.

Eurofighter is Europe’s largest defence programme, in which the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy are involved alongside Germany. In addition to technological capabilities, it secures more than 100,000 jobs in Europe.

C-27J Next Generation

Leonardo has begun the final testing of the C-27J Next Generation which features new equipment, a new avionics system and advanced aerodynamic devices, these will enhance the existing high performance of the aircraft. The first C-27J Spartan in the new configuration will be delivered to an undisclosed customer in 2021.

C-27J Next Generation
The successful C-27J Spartan sheds its skin to reach new performance heights

The performance and reliability of the C-27J Spartan continues to evolve as the best response to its customers’ needs. Pushing on the aircraft’s versatility and mission flexibility, the C-27J Spartan offers an ever-increasing range of mission solutions, which adapt in response to new challenges faced by operators. A true force enabler, its unrivalled multi-mission capabilities are key in presenting the latest evolution of the Spartan as a cost-effective solution and an intelligent investment for nations, which are selecting it for their military, as well as civil protection requirements.

Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Division’s Managing Director, said: «The enhanced C-27J brings the unrivalled quality and capabilities of the Spartan to the next, higher level. Its operators will benefit from modern avionics, increased performance and efficiency. The Spartan embodies the essence of national security, proving to be the best asset for armed forces’ defence operations and for their fundamental contribution to population support and disaster relief». In a world hit this year by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies international media have extensively reported on the C-27J’s relentless and effective support to communities in need. Mr. Zoff also added: «Our customers have discovered in this aircraft an element of social inclusion, because it is the only aircraft capable to reach people in the most remote rural areas of their nations».

Leonardo is committed to serving and protecting communities around the world, contributing to their sustainable growth by leading in next generation technologies. Partnering with Governments, private organizations and industries for the best security and safety capabilities is a cornerstone of Leonardo’s BeTomorrow2030 Strategic Plan.

Already acknowledged as the most effective multi-mission military transport aircraft in its class, the C-27J Next Generation today features comprehensive new avionics and aerodynamic developments with new winglets, for improved operational efficiency and even better performance. Mission-proven across all continents with a number of prime air forces, the Spartan is operated in the world’s most demanding operational environments – from the Andes to Afghanistan – for military transport, cargo and paratroopers air drop, last tactical mile troop support, special operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

C-27J Spartan
The first enhanced aircraft will be delivered to an undisclosed customer in 2021

The brand-new avionics system of the C-27J Next Generation is designed to comply with Next Generation Air Traffic Control requirements, including Future Air Navigation System (FANS) 1/A+ datalink; Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) 7.1; Instrument Landing System (ILS) Cat.II; enhanced video Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS). New cockpit displays; new weather radar; new radio navigation; enhanced satellite communications and radio communication capabilities; new intercommunication system; new cockpit and cargo panels; Mode 5 Friend or Foe/ Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (IFF/ADS-B) out and tactical Vertical Navigation (VNAV) and Search and Rescue; lighting system with Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) technology have also been included. Moreover, former avionics and general systems interface boxes have been replaced with new equipment by Leonardo’s Electronics. The new baseline configuration is also offered as a retrofit to current operators wanting to upgrade their C-27J Spartan fleet capabilities.

Thanks to its exceptional structural strength and systems redundancy, the C-27J Spartan offers unique qualities of ruggedness, reliability, outstanding survivability and manoeuvrability. Its capability to operate from the most rudimentary airstrips, performing Short Take-Offs and Landings (STOL) in extreme environmental conditions is enhanced by the winglets, while Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) provides an independent power source, which can restart engines in flight, or make the aircraft autonomous and self-reliable during deployment missions at improvised airfields.

The aircraft can be equipped with a Defensive Aids Sub-Systems suite, secure communications and ballistic protection in order to operate in high threat environments.

Thanks to its multiple roll-on/roll-off mission kits and systems, the C-27J Spartan can be quickly configured and reconfigured to carry out a wide range of tasks, including a tactical transport, maritime patrol, even incorporating Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) or Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C3ISR) tasks. As a tactical transport aircraft, its capabilities include transport of troops, cargo, paratroops and cargo airdrop, Medical Evacuation/Casualty Evacuation (Medevac/Casevac), VIP, but can also carry out operations of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and fire-fighting, thanks to its fast operational reconfiguration.

Open Mission Systems

Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully demonstrated an Open Mission Systems (OMS) compliant Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) sensor in recent ground and multiple flight demonstrations.

OMS
Northrop Grumman demonstrating an OMS-compliant advanced sensor during a live ground demonstration (Northrop Grumman Photo/Released)

For the demonstrations, an advanced Northrop Grumman wideband AESA sensor was connected to an OMS-compliant mission computing system provided by Boeing. After integrating with the Boeing mission computing environment, the AESA sensor was instructed to focus on specific targets, capture and manage data, and communicate the information back to the mission computing system, which was displayed in real-time on an operator’s workstation.

«These demonstrations continue to act as pathfinders to enable further OMS opportunities», said Paul Kalafos, vice president, surveillance and electromagnetic maneuver warfare, Northrop Grumman. «Using an agile framework, we can quickly develop and adapt complex, multi-function systems to enable multi-mission nodes at the tactical edge of the battlespace, be it Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), electronic warfare, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance».

OMS is an approach based on open architecture design allowing customers to rapidly add new or improved capabilities, regardless of supplier, at a reduced cost. This Northrop Grumman and Boeing joint live flight test demonstrated a key step in continuing the validation and integration of OMS-compliant systems and the ability to successfully transfer relevant active-passive kill chain data.

«Northrop Grumman is a pioneer in developing multi-function sensors», said Greg Simer, vice president, air dominance and strike, Northrop Grumman. «Through our iterative development and flight demonstrations, we are focused on agile development with OMS-compliant sensors and commercial practices to prove the rapid integration of capabilities across mission sets. The result is faster and more affordable advances in sensor capabilities for U.S. forces and their allies».

Northrop Grumman plans to integrate a combination of OMS/Open Communication Systems sensors and software-defined radios across multiple platforms, networks and nodes to address driving mission needs and ensure multi-domain interoperability. To learn more about Northrop Grumman’s role in connecting the joint force, visit the company’s website.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

CRJ testbed aircraft
Northrop Grumman flew the OMS-compliant advanced sensor on its Baltimore-based CRJ testbed aircraft (Northrop Grumman Photo/Released)

Rescue Group

The 23rd Wing and 347th Rescue Group leadership received the Air Force’s first two HH-60W Jolly Green II helicopters at Moody Air Force Base (AFB), Georgia, November 5.

HH-60W Jolly Green II
Two HH-60W Jolly Green IIs prepare to land at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, November 5, 2020. The 23rd Wing and 347th Rescue Group leadership received the Air Force’s first two HH-60W Jolly Green IIs. The delivery of the new model is significant to the personnel recovery mission as it begins the transition from the predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk model, which has been flown for more than 26 years (U.S. Air Force photo by Andrea Jenkins)

Aircrew from the 41st Rescue Squadron out of Moody AFB and the 413th Flight Test Squadron and 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, both at Duke Field, Florida, flew the aircraft from Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Training Academy.

The HH-60W Jolly Green II comes equipped with a wide range of capabilities that will ensure its crews continue carrying out their critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services and allies in contested and diverse environments. The HH-60W Jolly Green II features advanced and improved defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric requirements.

The primary mission of the HH-60W Jolly Green II helicopter will be conducting day or night operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The platform will also be tasked to perform military operations other than war, including civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space-flight support, and rescue command and control.

The delivery of the new model is significant to the personnel recovery mission as it begins the transition from the predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk model, which has been flown for more than 26 years. The Air Force will continue to utilize the HH-60G Pave Hawk model until the transition is complete.

HH-60W Jolly Green II
An HH-60W Jolly Green II taxis at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, November 5, 2020. The 23rd Wing and 347th Rescue Group leadership received the Air Force’s first two HH-60W Jolly Green IIs. The delivery of the new model is significant to the personnel recovery mission as it begins the transition from the predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk model, which has been flown for more than 26 years. The Air Force will continue to utilize the Pave Hawk until the transition is complete (U.S. Air Force photo by Andrea Jenkins)

Strike Weapon Platform

The U.S. Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) Office awarded Lockheed Martin a $25 million contract to support the next phase of the service’s Palletized Munitions Experimentation Campaign.

MC-130J Super Hercules
Airlifters like the MC-130J Super Hercules have the potential to deploy large quantities of JASSM-ERs, providing a significant increase in long-range standoff scale (Photo by Lockheed Martin)

The fourth phase includes a system-level demonstration in 2021 and continues to assess the potential to deliver large volumes of air-launched weapons via airlifters.

«Despite the Palletized Munitions program being relatively new, it’s moving very quickly», said Scott Callaway, Lockheed Martin Advanced Strike Systems director. «The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contracting and Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) offices, and Lockheed Martin teams established this new contract in a record time of 30 days, supporting faster prototyping and a shorter timeline to bring this advanced capability to the warfighter in the field».

Initial studies show that airlifters have the potential to deploy large quantities of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles, providing a significant increase in long-range standoff scale and complementing traditional strike and bomber aircrafts. This innovative approach enables warfighters to launch offensive operations from a greater number of airfields and engage a larger number of near-peer adversarial targets.

The overall goal of the experimentation is to develop a modular system to deliver air-launched weapons, leveraging standard airdrop procedures and operations. The system will have the ability to be rolled on and off multiple types of aircraft, including the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130.

Phase I successfully accomplished five high-altitude airdrops from an MC-130J Super Hercules (manufactured by Lockheed Martin) and a C-17 Globemaster III earlier this year using simulated weapons. During this effort, the U.S. Air Force tested the suitability of launching JASSM-ERs from an airlifter. JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile for the U.S. and allied forces designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets.