Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are awaiting a US Army decision on full-scale development of the NetFires/ Missile in a Box (MIB) concept as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded Loitering Attack Missile (LAM) and Precision Attack Missile (PAM) demonstration concludes next year.

The army is expected to release a NetFires/MIB pre-system development and demonstration (SDD) request for proposals to be funded during the coming financial year. Industry sources expect the $42 million risk-reduction contract to be awarded by January, and to run in parallel with the DARPA demonstration until it concludes at the end of fiscal year 2003. It is still unclear whether the army will continue to split work between Lockheed Martin's LAM and Raytheon's PAM, along the same lines as the demonstration programme, or if one contractor will develop both missiles.

Both missiles are 180mm (7in) in diameter and designed for a 15-cell, Humvee-mounted, vertical launcher. But each company has a unique container/launcher unit.

Up to 40,000 PAMs are required, compared to 10,000 winged LAMs. The former will have a controllable-thrust pintle motor from Aerojet, which can be controlled depending on launch mode, desired range, duration and target, and a high-bandwidth datalink for in-flight targeting updates. This technology has been the focus of the DARPA-funded work, culminating in guided launches next year.

Development still to be funded as part of SDD includes a dual uncooled infrared and semi-active laser seeker, automatic target recognition and dual blast/fragmentation and shaped-charged warhead.

The army wants to field the weapon around the same time as the Future Combat System in 2008. LAM is intended to complement PAM by loitering over a battlefield seeking targets with a laser detection and ranging system. Targeting data is then relayed back to PAMs.


Source: Flight International