The US Army is seeking funding to begin Raytheon Loitering Attack Munition-Aviation (LAM-A) flight tests next year. It aims to prove the concept of an airborne-launched long-range missile that can loiter before attacking, provide real-time target imagery and network with manned and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

LAM-A is a similar concept to Lockheed Martin's Low Cost Autonomous Attack System being developed for the US Air Force, but it has an imaging infrared seeker and datalink to provide a man-in-the-loop control capability. This would allow an operator to confirm a target for a strike, redirect or update the weapon in flight, and provide a battle damage assessment and surveillance capability.

LAM-A is sized for the current M299 launcher on the Boeing AH-64 Apache or Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopters. After launch, using a solid-fuel rocket motor, LAM-A would be powered by a 30lb-thrust (0.13kN) turbojet and deploy a longitudinally stowed 1.4m- (56in) span wing to provide stand-off ranges greater than 50km (27nm) and 30min loiter time. Initial test vehicles will be powered by the Hamilton Sundstrand TJ50 engine.

"We hope to get it into a flight demonstration soon and then feed into the Hunter-Standoff Killer Team and NetFires demonstrations to evaluate LAM-A in a system of systems environment," says JP Ballenger, Raytheon programme manager.

Alternatively, the weapon could be carried by UAVs, although such platforms could be restricted to relaying data.

The US Army funded around $7 million of LAM-A technology development and wants to move to a three-year flight-test demonstration with the aim of starting full-scale development in around 2006. An operational system could be ready by 2009/10, says John Meadows, US Army Missile Guidance Directorate.


Source: Flight International