Alabama-based Dynetics has unveiled a design for a 27kg-class guided bomb with a warhead significantly larger than even heavier munitions, such as the 50kg-class Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire.
US Special Operations Command has already taken notice of the new product, awarding Dynetics an $11.6 million contract earlier this month to continue development of small glide munition (SGM) ahead of a potential production go-ahead decision next year.
According to Dynetics, SOCOM has for several years called on industry to develop a new munition compatible for release from the common launch tube, but with significantly heavier explosive module than even the 9kg warhead on the rocket-powered Hellfire.
But larger contractors passed on the SOCOM need, perhaps driven away by the relatively low volume of production. For Dynetics, however, SOCOM’s niche requirement seemed a perfect fit. The company has been involved in munitions development for 40 years, specializing in niche capabilities, such as the lattice control fins of the Boeing-built Massive Ordnance Penetrator and supplying the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb to the USAF.
To meet the SOCOM requirement, Dynetics redefined the configuration of a glide munition. Separate modules for the nose section, tail kit and wing are mounted directly to the warhead case, affording space for a
By mounting modules for the nose section, tail kit and wing directly to the warhead case, the small glide munition (SGM) can afford 16kg blast-fragmentation warhead with detonation by direct impact or a pre-selected height above the ground. That configuration also gives the weapon flexibility to swap the warhead or the sensors with other capabilities, Dynetics says.
A deployable wing gives the glide bomb a “significant” stand-off range, along with the ability to launch the SGM at the target from any direction.
The munition package includes a GPS receiver with anti-spoofing software. The sensor is adapted from the BAE Systems WGU-59/B advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS), with a semi-active laser seeker with four apertures distributed in the nose of the SGM.
SOCOM plans to integrate such a capability first on the Lockheed AC-130U gunship. The Dynetics weapon is compatible with any aircraft carrying a common launch tube, which include the US Marine Corps’ KC-130 tanker/gunship and MV-22 Osprey.
Dynetics also is integrating the SGM into a Harris GBU-71 launch rack, allowing it to be released from the wing of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper.