The Department of Defense announced today that the multi-year Low-Cost Cruise Missile (LCCM) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) project successfully transitioned three primary technologies to programs of record or development projects. The LCCM JCTD was initiated to advance a decentralized autonomy module for low-cost, conventional, collaborative cruise missiles; the integrated management team developed a new air vehicle and launcher, an autonomy software module, and a jam-resistant datalink.
The air vehicle, the Coyote Block III, was improved and the launcher was developed with Raytheon Missiles & Defense; the autonomy software module with the Georgia Tech Research Institute; and the datalink with L-3 Harris.
In the final operational demonstration in 2020, multiple cruise missiles were pneumatically launched in a matter of minutes. The swarm of LCCM vehicles then dynamically reacted to a prioritized threat environment while conducting collaborative target identification and allocation along with synchronized attacks.
“This successful transition shows the great value of the JCTD program,” said Jon Lazar, acting director of prototypes & experiments. “By working closely with our industry partners and combatant command operators, we delivered needed capabilities that will enhance the warfighter’s ability to accomplish their missions.”
The Coyote Block III air vehicle is the baseline for numerous follow-on activities and programs within the Navy, Air Force, and Army. The autonomy module transitioned to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Vanguard Program, Golden Horde, and will transition to the Marine Corps Long-Range Unmanned Surface Vehicle Program of Record and MITRE’s Simulation Experiments along with several Air Force and Navy spiral development programs. The jam-resistant datalink also transitioned to the Golden Horde program, along with several spiral development programs.
The JCTD office provided project oversight, and Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW) provided technical management and overall technology integration. Flight tests and operational demonstrations were flown in 2018 and 2019 at the Yuma Test Proving Grounds, Arizona. In the final operational demonstration in 2020, multiple cruise missiles were pneumatically launched in a matter of minutes. The swarm of LCCM vehicles then dynamically reacted to a prioritized threat environment while conducting collaborative target identification and allocation along with synchronized attacks. The LCCM project also enabled significant improvement in understanding the relationship between communications and autonomy in collaborative vehicles.