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08 Jun 2022

AIR: US Air Force awards contracts to start designing F-35 weapon

The U.S. Air Force has awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and L3Harris Technologies for the first phase of a new program to develop an air-to-ground stand-in attack weapon that the F-35 jet could use to destroy enemy air defenses. The three-month contracts are valued at $2 million each.

Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and L3Harris Technologies said this week the service selected them for phase one of the SIAW program. The three-month contracts, each for $2 million, were awarded May 25, Lena Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Armament Directorate, said Wednesday.


The Air Force signaled it was preparing to move forward with the SIAW in supporting documents for its proposed fiscal 2023 budget, which for the first time requested $78 million to start procuring 42 of the weapons.


The Air Force said this weapon would allow it to strike enemy targets that create an anti-access, area denial environment and can be rapidly moved. These potential targets include integrated air defense systems, ballistic missile launchers, land-attack and anti-ship cruise missile launchers, GPS jammers, and anti-satellite systems.


This first phase of the SIAW program focuses on digital engineering and design. Lockheed said in its release that this is the first time the Air Force has had a fully digital weapons acquisition and development program.


Northrop said it will use its experiences from designing and producing the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range, or AARGM-ER, for the U.S. Navy and integrating it on F-35s.


L3Harris said in a release Wednesday that its Agile Development Group will lead its SIAW efforts and will take advantage of the group’s digital engineering capabilities. The Agile Development Group includes several thousand engineers, program managers, technicians and operations professionals focused on quickly developing solutions to deal with a variety of emerging threats.


“L3Harris is looking forward to working with the Air Force and industry partners to go fast and deliver superior firepower and advanced capabilities to the warfighter,” Dave Duggan, president of L3Harris’s Agile Development Group, said in the release.


The stand-in weapon would have a shorter range than standoff weapons, which are designed to be fired from a distance outside the range of enemy defenses, typically by an aircraft such as a B-52.

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