The United States Air Force has awarded contracts to three companies to continue the development of its planned air-to-ground stand-in attack weapon (SIAW).
The announcement follow an RFI which was issued in January 2020, with the latest contracts awarded to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and L3Harris. Although small at US$2 million each, the contracts will cover phase one of the program which will focus on digital engineering and design for an initial period of three months.
In a 9 June release, Northrop Grumman said the contracts will see the USAF align the “SIAW missile system technical capabilities to the Air Combat Command requirements, and to the Air Force Weapon Government Reference Architecture”. It says, “Tasks include the establishment of an integrated digital environment to design, develop, and test the initial increment of the SIAW missile system utilizing a digital engineering methodology and model-based systems engineering best practices”.
To be employed from F-35A fighters, the SIAW is designed to have an anti-radar capability to be used to destroy enemy air defence systems, but will also be capable of hunting ballistic missile launchers, land-attack and anti-ship cruise missile launchers, GPS jammers, and anti-satellite systems.
The F-35 will be able to carry two SIAWs internally, and up to eight in pairs on four wing pylons, although for ‘stand-in’ penetrating missions which will require the aircraft to maintain its stealthy profile, external carriage would be unlikely.