Lockheed Martin-Raytheon joint venture Netfires LLC will design and test the non-line-of-sight launch system (NLOS-LS) under a $1.1 billion contract awarded by the US Army on 19 March.

Raytheon is to develop the 85km (45nm)-range Precision Attack Missile (PAM) and Lockheed Martin the 130km-range Loitering Attack Missile (LAM) under the award, which is split evenly between the two companies. A common, 16-cell launch unit is also being jointly created by the partners.

One launch tube is to be occupied by electronics equipment, leaving 15 cells available to fire a mix of PAM and LAM weapons. Both missiles will share an 18cm (7in)-diameter, roughly 54kg (120lb) casing and be suitable for launch either from the ground or the top of a small transport vehicle. Both missiles will be guided by semi-active laser seekers, aided by global positioning/inertial navigation systems. Datalinks to be installed in each weapon will allow ground controllers to redirect the missiles in flight.

The LAM is expected to have a 30min loitering capability on station. It can identify targets using a laser-radar seeker originally developed for Lockheed Martin's Low Cost Autonomous Attack System. This compares a three-dimensional image of objects in its sight with stored images of its targets.

The NLOS-LS programme transitioned to the army after starting as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored demonstration programme called Netfires, which included two live-fire tests last year.

The army wants to begin deploying the weapons in 2010. A flight-testing schedule is still under negotiation, says Lockheed Martin.

Source: Flight International