The US Air Force has decided to proceed with the advanced-concept technology demonstration (ACTD) phase of the low-cost autonomous attack system (LOCAAS) programme being developed by the Wright Laboratory's Armament Directorate at Eglin AFB, Florida.

The award of the ACTD contract by the USAF is expected in January 1998, with this phase of the programme lasting for up to 41 months. Series production of the weapon could begin by 2004.

The LOCAAS is a 45kg winged submunition, powered by a 0.22kN (50lb)-thrust Sunstrand TJ-50 turbojet, giving a 185km (95nm) stand-off range, with global-positioning/inertial-navigation guidance, a laser-radar seeker with automatic target-recognition and a multi-mode warhead. Target price is $30,000.

Four LOCAAS vehicles will be carried in a tactical munitions-dispenser, although this is viewed as an interim solution by programme sources. Also being examined is the low-cost dispenser (LODIS), which would allow increased carriage of more LOCAAS.

In addition to external carriage on the Lockheed Martin F-16, the weapon would also be carried internally by the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor and Lockheed Martin F-117. Up to 24 LODIS dispensers, each with ten submunitions, could be carried by the Rockwell B-1B. The maximum load on the Northrop-Grumman B-2 would be slightly fewer.

The ACTD will cover captive-carry flight demonstrations for the seeker. One or two contractors will be selected for a seven-month seeker captive-test phase, leading to F-16 or Boeing B-52 flight tests.


Source: Flight International