The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded Lockheed Martin a $110 million, five-year Phase 1 contract to develop and demonstrate “Gray Wolf,” a new, low-cost cruise missile intended to swarm integrated air defense (IAD) systems, according to a Lockheed Martin press release.
Key to the Gray Wolf concept is developing the networked, collaborative “swarming” behaviors that could overwhelm increasingly sophisticated IAD systems proliferating worldwide.
The Gray Wolf program seeks to develop cheap and therefore plentiful subsonic cruise missiles that can be employed in networked groups. Toward this goal, the missiles would employ open architectures and modular design to allow for rapid prototyping, spiral growth, and maximum mission flexibility. Key to the Gray Wolf concept is developing the networked, collaborative “swarming” behaviors that could overwhelm increasingly sophisticated IAD systems proliferating worldwide.
“Lockheed Martin’s concept for the Gray Wolf missile will be an affordable, counter-IAD missile that will operate efficiently in highly contested environments,” said Hady Mourad, Advanced Missiles Program director for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Using the capabilities envisioned for later spirals, our system is being designed to maximize modularity, allowing our customer to incorporate advanced technologies such as more lethal warheads or more fuel-efficient engines, when those systems become available.”
Program plans are for four spiral development phases. The first phase, under the $110 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, is expected to end in late 2019. Although the missile is also planned to be compatible with the F-35, F-15, F/A-18, B-1, B-2 and B-52, initial testing will be conducted aboard an F-16.
“Our AFRL customer will benefit from decades of Lockheed Martin experience in building high-quality, low-cost systems like GMLRS, while capitalizing on the experience of our team in developing and integrating advanced cruise missiles such as JASSM and LRASM on military aircraft,” Mourad said.