Lockheed Martin received a $110 million, five-year Phase 1 contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop and demonstrate a new low-cost cruise missile called Gray Wolf.
The Gray Wolf program seeks to develop low-cost, subsonic cruise missiles that use open architectures and modular design to allow for rapid prototyping and spiral growth capabilities. The AFRL is developing the missiles to feature networked, collaborative behaviors (swarming) to address Integrated Air Defense (IAD) system threats around the world. The Gray Wolf missile design will allow for maximum mission flexibility.
«Lockheed Martin’s concept for the Gray Wolf missile will be an affordable, counter-IAD missile that will operate efficiently in highly contested environments», said Hady Mourad, Advanced Missiles Program director for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «Using the capabilities envisioned for later spirals, our system is being designed to maximize modularity, allowing our customer to incorporate advanced technologies such as more lethal warheads or more fuel-efficient engines, when those systems become available».
The Gray Wolf program consists of four spiral-development phases that allow for rapid technology prototyping and multiple transition opportunities. This first phase, defined by an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, is anticipated to run until late 2019. Initial demonstrations will be from an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. In addition to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the system will be designed for compatibility with F-35 Lightning II, F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress aircraft.
«Our AFRL customer will benefit from decades of Lockheed Martin experience in building high-quality, low-cost systems like Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), while capitalizing on the experience of our team in developing and integrating advanced cruise missiles such as Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) and Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) on military aircraft», Mourad said.
The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) awarded Lockheed Martin $26.3 million for the design, development and production of a high-power fiber laser. AFRL plans to test the laser on a tactical fighter jet by 2021. The contract is part of AFRL’s Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program, and is a major step forward in the maturation of protective airborne laser systems.
«Lockheed Martin continues to rapidly advance laser weapon systems and the technologies that make them possible», said Doctor Rob Afzal, senior fellow of laser weapon systems at Lockheed Martin. «We have demonstrated our ability to use directed energy to counter threats from the ground, and look forward to future tests from the air as part of the SHiELD system».
The SHiELD program includes three subsystems:
SHiELD Turret Research in Aero Effects (STRAFE), the beam control system, which will direct the laser onto the target;
Laser Pod Research & Development (LPRD), the pod mounted on the tactical fighter jet, which will power and cool the laser;
Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE), the high energy laser itself, which can be trained on adversary targets to disable them.
LANCE is designed to operate in a compact environment, and as such, the Lockheed Martin team focused on developing a compact, high efficiency laser within challenging size, weight and power constraints.
«Earlier this year, we delivered a 60 kW-class laser to be installed on a U.S. Army ground vehicle. It’s a completely new and different challenge to get a laser system into a smaller, airborne test platform. It’s exciting to see this technology mature enough to embed in an aircraft», said Afzal. «The development of high power laser systems like SHiELD show laser weapon system technologies are becoming real. The technologies are ready to be produced, tested and deployed on aircraft, ground vehicles and ships».
Lockheed Martin has more than 40 years of experience developing laser weapon systems. The LANCE contract leverages technology building blocks from internal research and development projects, including the ATHENA system and ALADIN laser, as well as contract experience gained from programs such as the U.S. Army’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) program.