Editor’s Note: As requirements for Next Generation Air Dominance, referred to by some as 6th-Gen or even 7th-Gen, start to emerge, it makes sense as the aircraft’s design and capabilities change and adapt to the battlespace of tomorrow, air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry would need to get aboard the train, too. During the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, advanced weaponry was a hot topic of discussion, with Major General Thomas Deale stressing the need for aircraft with ultra-precise weapons like SACM, and larger magazines for airborne cannons.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) says it has begun early research into a miniature air-to-air missile that would be carried on the next-generation of fighter jets.

Known as the Small Advanced Capabilities Missile (SACM), AFRL officials say the conceptual missile would be far smaller and cheaper than today’s advanced air-to-air missiles like the Raytheon AIM-9X and AIM-120D, and therefore might be purchased and fielded in greater quantities.

SACM is one of many next-generation munitions concepts being pursued by AFRL as the US Air Force matures its so-called sixth-generation or air dominance fighter jet that would be introduced in the 2030s.

SACM: Affordable, Highly-Lethal Missile
This F-22A Raptor from the 27th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Eagles” located at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) at an BQM-34P “Fire-bee” subscale aerial target drone over the Gulf of Mexico during a Combat Archer mission. (USAF Photo)

“SACM would be an affordable, highly lethal air-to-air missile with reduced size and weight compared to current air-to-air missiles,” AFRL tell Flightglobal in a prepared statement.

“By enabling a high loadout capability and increased missile effectiveness, future fighters would be able to survive in the contested anti-access/area-denial environment and complete their missions with minimal losses.”

AFRL is also looking at the next-generation of general purpose bombs known as GBU-X, and a powered air-to-ground missile (AGM-X) the would be rocket boosted for greater range and impact energy. GBU-X and AGM-X would also be “distributed, collaborative and cooperative” weapons for net-enabled, coordinated attacks on high-value targets.

The article on Flightglobal can be viewed in its entirety here.

(Featured photo courtesy of USAF)