Programme calls for two or three prototypes to be built and flown in third quarter of 2005
Lockheed Martin plans to fly its developmental surveilling miniature attack cruise missile (SMACM) late this year after completing low-speed windtunnel testing of prototype airframes last December. The company-funded development programme will involve the construction of two or three prototypes in the third quarter of 2005, with the planned test flight to see an unarmed prototype perform a near full mission, including most of the terminal engagement phases.
Lockheed has shelved a plan to re-use the laser radar seeker developed for its low cost autonomous attack system (LOCAAS) miniature loitering weapon and will instead equip the SMACM with the tri-mode radar, infrared and semi-active laser seeker head it developed for the US Joint Common Missile programme.
Lockheed's vice president strike weapons Randy Bigum says: "We are taking that very same seeker, trying not to change it at all [and will] transfer it over to this cruise missile so they get the commonality." Bigum says the change is consistent with a clear trend within the US Air Force to equip its future stand-off weapons with tri-mode seekers. The LOCAAS warhead will be retained in the new missile, he says. "We can use that warhead…and we can hit SEAD targets, moving targets and urban environments". The new weapon will also have a maritime mode.
Lockheed unveiled the SMACM concept in mid-2004 and intends four of the 1.8m (6ft) -long weapons to be carried on the Boeing BRU-61/B small diameter bomb rack developed for the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F/A-22 Raptor and Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The combination could also be standardised for use on future armed unmanned air vehicles and unmanned combat air vehicles, Bigum says. The windtunnel testing conducted between 6-11 December included a small amount of geometric exploration but was essentially intended to characterise overall airframe performance. "We were quite satisfied with the windtunnel. We made very few changes, just a tweak here or there and we are on track to fly the missile at the end of this year", he says.
Lockheed is in the final stages of selecting a turbojet engine for the SMACM weapon, which is expected to have a range of 465km (250nm) and an all-up weight of 63.5kg (140lb). The company has meanwhile submitted the concept to the Office of the Secretary of Defense as a candidate for its fiscal year 2006 advanced concept technology demonstrations.
PETER LA FRANCHI/AVALON
Source: Flight International