Air Force Seeking Faster, Longer-Range Air-to-Air Missiles

New and old developments in aviation technology.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

spazsinbad

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 25141
  • Joined: 05 May 2009, 21:31
  • Location: ɐıןɐɹʇsn∀¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Warnings: -2

Unread post07 May 2020, 09:12

Air Force Seeking Faster, Longer-Range Air-to-Air Missiles
06 May 2020 John A. Tirpak

"The Air Force is looking for “novel” approaches to a new class of faster and longer-range air-to-air missiles, according to a request for information released May 5, but it’s not clear how these new weapons would complement several existing new dogfight missile programs.

The solicitation, released by Air Force Materiel Command’s Air Force Research Laboratory, at the Eglin weapons directorate, seeks industry ideas for technologies applicable to new dogfight missiles, which presumably would improve or replace the current generation of AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder, and complement the secretive AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile. The AFRL wants companies to indicate their interest to work on the project by June 18. It did not say when a program of record might begin. AFRL’s point of contact on the solicitation could not be reached, and AFMC had no immediate comment.

In a Q&A to appear in the June issue of Air Force Magazine, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes said the Air Force needs fifth-generation weapons to go with its fifth-generation platforms.

“We’ll have to continue to make sure our weapons evolve like the platforms do,” he said. “We need weapons that can fit inside the weapons bays of our fifth-gen platforms, the F-22 and the F-35, and then we need weapons that can survive against those future threats and make it all the way to their target.” The AIM-260 JATM is one of those, he said.

Asked if the Air Force expects to get a big jump in loadout—the number of weapons that can be carried—per airframe, Holmes said, “It’s hard to push out and get the same range with a smaller weapon. So, we’ll be building a range of weapons that fit inside those weapons bays, and I’m not really going to talk about how many will fit in there.”

According to the AFRL notice, the new missiles have to fit inside the weapon bays of fifth-generation fighters and not exceed 156 inches. AFRL is willing to consider single or multi-stage rocket motors, or an air-breathing system, but is keenly interested in “multi-pulse solid rocket motors” that can be throttled, along with innovative “propellants, grain configurations, cases, and liners.” The Air Force wants a missile faster than the ones it has already, with “compact design” warheads having “high single-shot probability of kill.” It wants “novel” airframes and compact control systems, advanced battery technology, and ultra-capacitors in the power system.

The Air Force will also consider “novel carriage and release concepts,” and wants “advanced power delivery” and “advanced data transmission.”

“Key considerations” for the new weapons, include:
• Technical feasibility
• Performance
• Resource availability
• Cost
• Manufacturability


The solicitation did not mention that it wants missiles smaller than those now in use. Because fifth-gen aircraft must carry weapons internally to stay stealthy, smaller weapons can increase the number of rounds each can carry. Senior USAF leaders have in recent years touted increasing loadout as one of their top requirements for new air-launched munitions.

Last year, the Air Force quietly disclosed that, in concert with the Navy, it is developing the AIM-260 to replace the AMRAAM, and that Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor. Few details of the new weapon have been revealed, although USAF officials said the weapon will have substantially more range than the AMRAAM in order to compete with the Chinese PL-15 air-to-air missile, which has an estimated range of more than 100 miles, and a dual-pulse rocket motor. The AIM-260 is to achieve initial operating capability in 2022.

Program Executive Officer for Weapons Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo told Air Force Magazine last summer that AIM-260 is meant to be “the next air-to-air dominance weapon” for fighters. He said it would have range greater than AMRAAM and “different capabilities onboard to go after that specific threat set, but certainly longer legs.” He said the missile is not an air-breathing weapon.

An even more closely-held air-to-air missile program is the Long Range Engagement Weapon, being developed by Raytheon. That munition is expected to be a two-stage missile.

Lockheed has previously promoted an air-to-air missile it called the “Cuda,” which would notionally be half the length of the AMRAAM but with similar or longer range. In 2013, at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber conference, Lockheed displayed a model of the F-35 with 12 Cudas carried internally. The F-35 can only carry four AMRAAMs internally, but Lockheed last year said it could modify the aircraft to carry two more, giving it the same AMRAAM loadout as the F-22.

Nine months ago, Raytheon announced a new air-to-air missile called the Peregrine, touted as half the size and weight of AMRAAM and AIM-9X, and available as a “supplement” to those inventories, but with longer range. It is being developed with Raytheon’s own funds, and company officials said Peregrine is not aimed at a specific stated requirement from the Air Force or Navy.

“We’re able to take the best of” the Sidewinder and AMRAAM, “and, based on what we see as the customer’s requirements and gaps … combine them into this new missile,” Raytheon business development manager Mark Noyes told Air Force Magazine at the time. He said the Peregrine would be six feet long and 150 pounds, and have a multi-mode seeker including imaging infrared, with a blast-frag warhead. Noyes said the Peregrine was designed to complement the existing missile portfolio to help the services “overwhelm” an adversary."

Source: https://www.airforcemag.com/air-force-s ... -missiles/
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
Offline

Corsair1963

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 7040
  • Joined: 19 Dec 2005, 04:14

Unread post07 May 2020, 10:28

The F-22 and F-35 will become even more lethal in the coming years! :devil:
Offline

zero-one

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2364
  • Joined: 23 Jul 2013, 16:19
  • Location: New Jersey

Unread post07 May 2020, 15:05

but it’s not clear how these new weapons would complement several existing new dogfight missile programs.

Sorry but what are these new "dogfight missile programs"? Cuda or something else?
Offline

mixelflick

Elite 4K

Elite 4K

  • Posts: 4263
  • Joined: 20 Mar 2010, 10:26
  • Location: Parts Unknown

Unread post10 May 2020, 14:45

Way overdue IMO...

As soon as the PL-15 emerged, we should have had something to out-stick it. Unfortunately, the AIM-120D was late to the game and even though its a big improvement, doesn't seem to have the range the PL-15 is thought to have.

The PL-21 is of even bigger concern. I'm not sure what kind of speed/range the AIM-260 has, but it'll need to be over 400km with a speed of mach 5 even to match the speculated stats of the PL-21. This is a moster jump from the AIM-120D, so it's likely AIM-260 will use some breathrough technologies I bet, probably in propulsion, fuel or both...

It looks like at 18 feet long and over 600lbs, the PL-21 is a really big missile. AIM-260 OTOH is said to be roughly as large as AMRAAM, and no bigger (due to requirement for internal carriage on F-22/35). As such, the American equivalent (if there is one) will probably require external carriage. Something I'm wondering USAF has in mind for the F-15EX...?
Offline

weasel1962

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2468
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2012, 02:41
  • Location: Singapore

Unread post11 May 2020, 04:56

There's always a question of how effective long ranged missiles are especially against highly maneuverable targets at range (AIM-54 lesson). That's why the threat from the PL-21 is more expected against AEW and transport aircraft, than fighters. Add US stealthy fighters to the mix and detection ranges drop significantly so having a long range missile is less useful if one can't detect the targets (stealth transports anyone?).

Both sides are developing airborne lasers. If effectively deployed, that would complicate AAM deployment. "Shield" may be more of a game changer than new AAMs.
Offline

madrat

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2856
  • Joined: 03 Mar 2010, 03:12

Unread post11 May 2020, 12:49

The simple counter to long range missiles for legacy aircraft will be constant maneuvers to reduce the chance of being vectored into a corner. If the maneuvers are constantly shifting it will reduce range dramatically. Better to reduce range than suffer a reduction of assets. This isn't WWI anymore where we just fly daily routes because they look pretty. But these long range missiles are difficult to spot so you always have to assume you've been targeted.
Offline

boogieman

Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 19 Aug 2019, 03:26

Unread post13 May 2020, 00:50

I've said before that I think there is a place for a US VLRAAM. I think the PLAAF already have enough HVAA to justify it (ditto with Russian bombers), and this trend is only getting more pronounced.

On a more light hearted note, I have had a little taste of what being outranged by an enemy's BVR AAM could be like recently. DCS currently models the PL12 and AIM54 - both of which comfortably outrange the AIM120C5 on my classic Hornet. It effectively forces me to fight from low altitude so that I can disappear into the doppler notch at a moment's notice and then retaliate, with kills having to be obtained at much closer ranges than usual. In the real world things like jamming and towed decoys would change this dynamic significantly, but it did go some way to demonstrating the importance of VLO and a weapon like JATM to me.
Offline

madrat

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2856
  • Joined: 03 Mar 2010, 03:12

Unread post13 May 2020, 02:17

Something tells me they will push fineness ratios, cross-sectional energy density, and stiffness properties to squeeze out some amazing glide-range. I just don't see anyway to avoid pop-out wings of some kind to glide like a penguin glides through the water with the aid of gravity to conserve precious height on the long shots. Tubular bodies can be used to create lift, but that really has to add drag disproportionately.
Offline
User avatar

KamenRiderBlade

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2664
  • Joined: 24 Nov 2012, 02:20
  • Location: USA

Unread post11 Jan 2021, 09:54

Pop Out Highly Swept wings to give missiles extra range?

Kinda like a more aggressively swept back SDB wing?
Offline

madrat

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2856
  • Joined: 03 Mar 2010, 03:12

Unread post12 Jan 2021, 03:29

Yes.
Offline

wrightwing

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3670
  • Joined: 23 Oct 2008, 15:22

Unread post12 Jan 2021, 21:42

I don't see the AIM-260 relying on wings for its range, especially not anything resembling glide bomb wings.

Return to Technology

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests