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The Weekly Debrief: More Details Emerge About New USAF Mystery Missile ...
By Steve Trimble - April 05, 2022

A single line item in a 101-page book of U.S. Defense Department funding requests for fiscal 2023 introduces a mysterious new air-to-air missile project for the Air Force.
The “Modular Advanced Missile” (MAM) program appears for the first time in the budget documents on line No. 31 of page 35 inside the Defense Department’s research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) programs book released March 28.
The more detailed budget justification books will not be available until mid-April, so the only official information released about the program in budget documents so far is the program’s intriguing name, program element number (“0603036F”) and proposed fiscal 2023 budget, $125,688,000.
“Modular Advanced Missile is an Air Force air-to-air prototyping effort,” the spokeswoman says.
The Air Force’s fighter fleet already operates the Raytheon AIM-9X and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air (Amraam) missiles, and the service is developing the Lockheed Martin AIM-260 missile, but the Air Force’s reply confirms that the MAM concept falls into the same category.
The $125 million line item is not for a one-off study but probably a down payment on a multiyear demonstration effort.
“The Modular Advanced Missile program will lead to air-launched kinematic demonstrations from a USAF fighter aircraft,” the spokeswoman says. 
The technology being demonstrated will also “enable capabilities across any weapon system,” she notes.
Aviation Week requested information about the top speed and maneuvering characteristics of the MAM, but the spokeswoman says they are not able to disclose that information yet due to security requirements.
As probably intended, the program’s name does not give much away. 
A radar-guided missile, for example, comprises several modules, including sections for a nose cone and antenna, a guidance and fuzing system, warhead, propellent tank, rocket motor and exhaust nozzle. 
A heat-seeking missile has an infrared seeker in the nose.
Thus, a missile is made of several sections that could be referred to as modules. 
But these sections are generally not considered “modular,” if that term implies some degree of interchangeability. 
A rocket motor for the AIM-260, for example, could not be swapped out for the motor of an AIM-120.
But perhaps the “modular” term in the program’s title refers to such interchangeability for a future air-to-air missile.
“My instinct is that the ‘modular’ keyword and the strictly air-to-air and fighter details . . . suggest an effort to develop a common front end which can be attached to various different modular rear/propulsion configurations,” says Justin Bronk, senior research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank. 
“I’d guess the aim is to allow a common missile program to service both fighters with internal weapons bays and those with external carriage and the ability to haul out-size loads, to go alongside AIM-260 as a future Amraam successor.”
Interchangeability, however, it is not as simple as swapping a medium-range propellant module for a section capable of longer range.
“You’d also need to be able to play around with the navigation and control laws and perhaps also have a scalable front-end [seeker],” says Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. 
“I’d wonder if for a very-long-range engagement - with the likely target location error, etc. - you’d want a bigger terminal seeker basket, so possibly a more capable antenna.”
The Air Force regularly experiments with new missile technologies. 
In 2018, for example, the Extended-Range Weapon (ERWn) entered the budgeting process with the goal of demonstrating an interceptor against an enemy’s long-range missiles during boost phase. 
But the Air Force canceled the ERWn program a year later, saying the technology had proved infeasible.
Other missile projects have appeared briefly only to disappear from the public record with no explanation. 
One example is the Long-Range Engagement Weapon (LREW), a two-stage missile that was depicted as launching from a Lockheed Martin F-22 in a 2017 briefing slide by a senior U.S. defense official. 
The slide indicated that the LREW program was ready to transition into development after completing a two-year risk-reduction phase, but the LREW subsequently vanished from the public record.


A meno che non si tratti di un programma destinato poi a svanire nel nulla come quelli indicati nella parte finale dell'articolo ...


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