Uncertain budgetary times can call for new flexible approaches to enhancing weapon system capabilities. One of the representative examples of this approach on display at the recent Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium and Exposition offered new life and expanded capabilities on the “Avenger” air defense system.
According to Rick Hunt, a program representative at The Boeing Company, the “Avenger Derivative,” which was displayed on a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) 5-ton truck chassis, “is based on Boeing IR&D [internal research and development funding] and also came out of customer requirements to modernize the Avenger.”
“The discriminator on this concept is that we opened up the architecture so you can now hang different weapons on it,” he explained. “All of the ‘Mil Standard’ interfaces are there, so now you can take Hellfire, Javelin, or put AIM-9X Sidewinders on it. So, going beyond the old short range air defense mission, now you could do force protection, forward base defense, or convoy protection missions.”
“That’s the idea: To give the customer – the Army – some flexibility now with a legacy system,” he added. “Keeping in mind that the Avenger is still in the National Guard – seven battalions – and the active component, where there are about 250 launchers – a couple of maneuver battalions – that are usually tied in with Patriot to help protect Patriot.”
With some of the .50-caliber machine guns transferred from legacy Avenger platforms to Kiowa Warrior helicopters [See ‘Guns of the Kiowa Warriors,” posted Jan. 4, 2010], the Avenger Derivative design on display at AUSA Winter featured a new lightweight, low-recoil 25 mm cannon from ATK.
“It has dual feed ammo so it can do armor piercing or airburst and can be switched by the operator,” Hunt said.
Pointing to the two AIM-9X missiles on the launcher, he said, “The reason for those is to give it a little more counter UAS/counter UAV capability, and obviously more range.”
The design also features the same Remote Control Unit (RCU) used on legacy Avenger, with updated software to handle the expanded system capabilities.
“And we’re also working on an ‘X-box’ type of controller,” Hunt noted.
As far as chassis, he said that the palletized design could be put on an M-ATV, a Bushmaster vehicle, back on the HMMWV (as with the legacy Avenger), on the ground or aboard a ship.
Asked about status, he said, “With the recent SLAMRAAM cancellation the Army is trying to decide what they want to do with the whole air and missile defense portfolio. We think they want Avenger to stay around until 2026. So they are going to have to modernize it. This design is 80 percent done.”
“But it’s certainly up to the Army to decide what they want to do,” he stressed.
He concluded, “With this design we are just trying to bring Avenger into the 21st century with a real cost-effective way of doing it.”