The U.S. Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) Office has awarded Lockheed Martin a $25 million contract to support the fourth phase of the U.S. Air Force’s Palletized Munitions Experimentation Campaign, the company reported on Wednesday.
“The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contracting and Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) offices, and Lockheed Martin teams established this new contract in a record time of 30 days, supporting faster prototyping and a shorter timeline to bring this advanced capability to the warfighter in the field," said Scott Callaway, Lockheed Martin Advanced Strike Systems director.
Under this phase of the program, Lockheed Martin will deliver a system-level demonstration in 2021 and assess the potential to deliver large volumes of air-launched weapons via airlifters. Airlifters have the potential to deploy large quantities of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles, which will provide an increase in long-range standoff scale.
JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile for the U.S. and allied forces designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets.
In addition, the capabilities can be integrated into traditional strike and bomber aircrafts to enable warfighters to launch offensive operations from a greater number of airfields and engage a larger number of near-peer adversary targets.
Lockheed Martin will work to develop a modular system that will deliver air-launched weapons. The company will utilize standard airdrop procedures and operations. The system will have the ability to be rolled on and off multiple types of aircraft, including the C-17 and C-130.
Lockheed Martin successfully accomplished five high-altitude airdrops from an MC-130J and a C-17 earlier this year using simulated weapons, under Phase I of experimentation. The U.S. Air Force also tested the suitability of launching JASSM-ERs from an airlifter.