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 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)