USAF working on new

defensive missile for fighters

US industry could be competing within three years to develop a new
self-defence missile for fighters aimed at countering the latest
generation of Russian and Chinese-made air-to-air weapons, says a
top Lockheed Martin executive.

For several years, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and
several contractors, including Lockheed, Raytheon and Boeing, have
been researching concepts and subsystems that could be used in a
new kind of air-to-air weapon.

In Lockheed’s concept, this miniature self-defence munition (MDSM) –
about half the size of a 3.7m (12ft) - long Raytheon AIM-120D
AMRAAM – would boast a limited capability to shoot down opposing
aircraft in short-range engagements, says Frank St. John, vice-
president of tactical missile and combat manoeuvre systems, speaking
on 15 March at Lockheed’s annual Media Day.

But the main purpose of the weapon, also known as the small
advanced capabilities missile (SACM) would be to intercept and
destroy incoming enemy missiles, such as the long-range, Chinese-
made PL-12 and Russian-made Vympel RVV-BD.

“I know that MSDM and SACM and all of those things are responses to
those threats in some way as a self defence capability for our aircraft,”
St. John says.
St. John estimates the air force could be ready to launch a competition
in 18 to 30 months for the new weapon, which, if funded, would add to
the internal-carriage arsenal of the F-22 and F-35.

Lockheed’s concept is based on a hit-to-kill weapon that destroys a
target with kinetic power alone. Powered by a small rocket motor, it
would leverage technology developed for the upgraded PAC-3 missile
segment enhancement (MSE) Patriot missile. Lockheed is continuing
to study radar and imaging-based sensors for terminal guidance, St.
John says.

Lockheed reveals small self-
defence weapon for fighters

The US Air Force is considering a Lockheed Martin proposal to adapt
technology used for a ground-based missile defense system to protect
fighters under attack in the air.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has invited proposals for a
miniature self-defense munition concept study, seeking to develop a
concept for a weapon to be dispensed from a fighter jet, hone in on an
incoming missile and destroy it with a direct hit.

By replacing chaff, flares and directional infrared lasers, the so-called
miniature self defence munition (MSDM) could revolutionise the
concept of defensive countermeasures for tactical aircraft, says Frank
St. John, vice-president of tactical missiles and combat manoeuvre
systems at Lockheed’s Missile and Fire Control division.
“To kinetically engage as a countermeasure something that’s fired at
you is an attractive possibility,” St. John says, “rather than just confuse
or jam something that’s been fired at you. ”Lockheed has been
studying the concept using internal funding for about three to four
years, St. John says.

It seeks to leverage the active millimetre wave radar developed for the
PAC-3 missile segment enhancement (MSE) programme. It
repackages the sensor in a miniature munition powered by a small
rocket motor.

In Lockheed’s concept, the pilot is alerted to an incoming missile and
dispenses an MSDM, which hones into the target using the radar
sensor, St. John says. It is a hit-to-kill weapon, and so lacks a warhead.

The miniature interceptor could dramatically increase the internal load-
outs of fighters such as the F-22 and F-35, he says. It could replace the
storage space now claimed for small diameter bombs. Alternatively,
three of the miniature interceptors could replace one Raytheon AIM-
120 AMRAAM, he says.

In addition to the PAC-3 MSE programme, Lockheed’s concept also
comes out of two other internal projects, St. John says. One is a
miniature, radar-guided missile called CUDA and the other programme
is “KICM”.

Lockheed has worked on component-level hardware development and
testing, along with performing operational analysis studies using
internal funding. Last year, the AFRL contributed funding for more
operational analyses, St. John says.

Although Lockheed has been studying the concept for four years, it
may have competition for more AFRL funding. The AFRL on 5
February notified potential vendors that it is seeking proposals for a
pair of concept studies on the MSDM itself and the munition’s seeker.