The U.S. Army is requesting industry input for a conceptual loitering precision guided munition, organic at the small unit level, that would allow “unprecedented engagement of enemy combatants without exposing the warfighter to direct enemy fires.”
Dubbed the Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS), the possible system would include three major elements:
- Operator control unit (providing hardware and/or function such as data link, associated cables, operator interface, and mission preparation and execution functions);
- All-up-round munition (including airframe, sensors, integrated guidance warhead, data link, and launcher), and;
- Training simulator.
As described in a recently released request for information (RFI), “A notional LMAMS operator control unit is day/night readable, providing the user real time video and control of the munition. The system has the ability to operate autonomously, semi-autonomously, or manually. The operator can select predetermined targets using geo location reference, visually select and identify targets of opportunity, loiter, abort, abort and redirect, arm/disarm, and manually command warhead detonation.”
During the initial mission preparation phase, targeting information would be provided to or by the operator in the form of headings, geo location reference, or landmark information. The information would be provided by direct observers, the operator himself, or sensors in the operator’s network separate from LMAMS.
Once positive identification of the target is obtained, the operator would perform mission preparation with the operator control unit, allowing autonomous flight to the area of interest. LMAMS would be capable of loitering once the fly out phase was accomplished. In the terminal engagement phase, LMAMS would have the ability to automatically track a target designated by the operator or allow the operator to manually control the system as needed to focus on a specific area or point of interest.
The notional LMAMS flight endurance envelope includes a 15-30 minute flight time and 5-10 kilometer range.
The RFI notes that the system “must have lethal effects against personnel and personnel in moving light-duty vehicles, while minimizing collateral damage.”
Envisioned terminal effects include “high probability of lethal effects at 4 meters with extremely low probability of lethal effects at 10 meters against unprotected enemy personnel in the open and in light-duty commercial vehicles both stationary and moving targets.”
“LMAMS must have the ability to automatically lock on and track a stationary or moving target,” the RFI adds. “Once a target is selected by the operator in the terminal phase of an engagement no further operator input shall be required.”
In parallel with the Army’s interest in LMAMS, the Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) is also developing supporting component technologies under the Small Organic Precision Munition (SOPM) Program.
Examples of the component technologies under development include:
- Image Stabilization and Autotracker;
- Secure Digital Data Link; Power Systems;
- Small warheads;
- Laser Height of Burst Sensor, and;
- Electronic Safe and Arm Device (ESAD).
According to the RFI, the notional LMAMS acquisition approach “will respond to a Capabilities Production Document formal requirement employing a competitive prototype down select decision,” with a competitive down select decision “made in conjunction with a milestone decision review based upon proposal evaluation and fly-off results.”
A technology readiness level of 7 or higher is desired in the FY14-16 timeframe.