Smack 'em Flattens Targets

March 2006
By Clarence A. Robinson Jr.

Lockheed Martin conducts wind tunnel tests with the Surveilling Miniature Attack Cruise Missile (SMACM). The loitering weapon is designed with a tri-mode sensor to fly for more than two hours, detect and engage moving targets. The 62-inch-long micro turbojet powered cruise missile weighs 150 pounds. With a range of more than 100 miles, the weapon’s inherent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability makes it a node in network-centric warfare.
Unique weapons unmask and accurately engage elusive on-the-move enemy forces.

Small and lightweight loitering cruise missiles with pinpoint precision are playing a deadly battlefield hide and seek in all weather conditions against hard-to-find mobile enemies. Armed with highly lethal warheads, a family of new weapons is emerging from development for both U.S. Army and Air Force applications. Moreover, these weapons hold the potential to significantly alter warfare.

Loitering munitions provide a capability for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) over the battlefield for up to two hours while en route to attack previously designated targets. These weapons also enable instant response, whether launched from the ground or from aircraft, against out-of-range targets attacking U.S. and allied forces.

Many of the components, such as guidance, sensor and propulsion subsystems, are common across a family of loitering munitions. The Surveilling Miniature Attack Cruise Missile, or SMACM (pronounced smack ’em), is in the 250-pound category. This loitering munition’s range is more than 100 miles, and it is designed for compatibility with most of today’s combat aircraft, including the stealthy U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to Jim Pappafotis. He is director of advanced programs, Lockheed Martin, Orlando, Florida.

SMACM’s tri-mode seeker package combines millimeter wave (MMW) radio frequency radar, an imaging infrared sensor and a semiactive laser (SAL) seeker, Pappafotis says. These three sensors offer an all-weather capability to quickly categorize targets through data fusion. The tri-mode seeker provides high combat identification probability with extremely low false alarm rates against targets, he adds.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, Pappafotis holds a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from Northeastern University, Boston. After Army service, he worked on numerous Lockheed Martin programs, including HAWK, Patriot, Standard Missile-2, Maverick, the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile.

Weighing 150 pounds, SMACM can be launched from outside the range of enemy air defenses and will hover for more than two hours. This missile carries sufficient fuel and an 18-pound multimode warhead. It is a longer-range version of the Air Force’s low cost autonomous attack submunition (LOCAAS), also developed by Lockheed Martin. SMACM incorporates a two-way datalink.

“Because of military service differences between launching a weapon from an aircraft at Mach 1.5 and from the ground, as in the case of yet another vehicle in the weapons family—the non-line-of-sight launch system (NLOS-LS) loitering attack missile (LAM)—different demands are placed on the missile’s airframe and folding wings,” Pappafotis observes. “LAM is designed for ground launch by the Army. You cannot use a common airframe. The modularity is inside the weapon among the various subsystems. SMACM’s design is driven by use of internal launchers in the F-22 and F-35, but it also can be launched by most of today’s fighter-attack aircraft inventory.”

An example of commonality, Pappafotis relates, is the micro turbojet propulsion system, which is common between LAM and SMACM. Made by Technical Directions Incorporated, Ortonville, Michigan, this small engine’s unique design features make the power plant compact, low-cost and easy to assemble. The turbojet provides the ISR loitering capability for the warfighter. The missile also uses both line-of-sight and non-line-of–sight datalinks to transmit imagery via commercial satellite and into the global information grid for network-centric operations. “This is a very critical capability. SMACM is not dependent on the network; however, the missile becomes a node in the system.”

SMACM’s components also are leveraged from company work with other weapon systems. An example Pappafotis offers is the MMW seeker from the Army’s Apache Longbow attack helicopter program. This sensor was developed to go after moving targets in all weather “to see moving targets on the battlefield when the rain comes in. The SAL seeker also is drawn from Hellfire’s anti-armor missile system used with the Apache to home on designated targets.”

“The company has taken a lot of components and incorporated them in the tri-mode seeker to provide one common bore-sighted system. This approach adds to the persistence capability to find, track and engage targets with loitering munitions to hit moving targets and collect sensor data in all weather,” Pappafotis discloses. Using company funding, SMACM has recently completed full integration tests with both hardware and software in the loop.

As a developmental weapon, SMACMs are available and could be flight-tested in short order with an Air Force contract. “However, we have no plans to do that now because we are in the middle of a competitive small diameter bomb increment 2 program, a 250-pound-class weapon that will go after moving targets. Lockheed Martin is a subcontractor to Boeing in that program using SMACM’s tri-mode seeker,” Pappafotis notes.

Nevertheless, “there is Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Munitions Directorate interest in demonstrating SMACM this year against moving targets. The directorate is located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

“SMACM also is being offered to the United Kingdom for its air-to-ground demonstration called the selective precision engagement at range, or SPEAR. The SPEAR program requirement is for a loitering munition that will fly from 30 to 100 nautical miles,” Pappafotis points out. “We are now in a position in the 250-pound-weapon class to offer the benefits of SMACM’s design. It is unfunded by the U.S. government, but Lockheed Martin’s commitment to loitering munitions is significant. The company is convinced that these vehicles will provide the ability to dig out targets while rapidly providing ISR to the warfighter. Recent experiments in Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation, the Lighthouse, confirm the importance of loitering munitions”.

Top Cover is a larger loitering cruise missile developed with internal funding by Lockheed Martin, Pappafotis reveals. Wind tunnel tests have been completed with this 450-pound-class weapon, and the company is positioned for flight demonstrations. Top Cover’s loitering ISR capability is up to 24 hours to provide target-tracking persistence. The sensor payload is designed for modularity, as is the kill mechanism. Flight-rated Top Cover vehicles have been built using off-the-shelf turbojet engines from Teledyne Technologies Incorporated Los Angeles. However, because Lockheed Martin is concentrating on its family of 250-pound-class loitering munitions, it has no immediate plans to fly Top Cover without a contract, Pappafotis adds.

The AFRL’s LOCAAS program will terminate in mid-2006. During LOCAAS seeker testing, laser radar (LADAR) captive-carry flights transmitted imagery over the Globalstar commercial communications satellite to an air operations center. This capability provides not only immediate surveillance but also an ability to transmit re-attack information to loitering munitions, dynamically changing targeting, Pappafotis maintains. The missiles also can transmit imagery over Iridium satellites.

“Modularity resulted with the laser radar sensor as LOCAAS underwent flight tests by AFRL, migrating directly into LAM. Additionally, the guidance and control systems and global positioning system (GPS) receivers are common for the loitering weapons. As a result of technology migration, it looks like an AFRL flight demonstration of SMACM is possible during 2006 as a follow-on to LOCAAS,” Pappafotis explains.

In mid-December, the vertically launched LAM successfully completed a boost test vehicle flight at Eglin Air Force Base—the first flight of a new square body airframe. Additional tests are scheduled early this year and include a guided test vehicle employing an Aerojet-General Corporation annular rocket motor, flight controls, turbojet engine and LADAR, a laser detection and ranging seeker. This term is interchangeable with laser radar, Steve Altman clarifies. He is director of business development, tactical missiles, NetFires LLC.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon jointly established this limited liability company based on a six-year $1.1 billion Army contract for system design and development of NLOS-LS, previously known as NetFires. The contract provides for a family of artillery missiles fired from vertical box launchers that can be deployed by ground or air assets throughout a theater and networked to quickly engage an enemy, according to Altman. This program encompasses development of LAM, a precision attack missile (PAM) and an autonomous container launch unit (CLU). Both companies earlier were under contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to demonstrate NetFires technology, including prototypes of LAM, PAM and the launcher.

LAM is an integral part of the Army’s Future Combat Systems program. The missile and its LADAR seeker have been successfully demonstrated under DARPA NetFires and the Air Force LOCAAS programs and will be interoperable with the current and future force. The LAM vehicle is 62 inches long and weighs 117 pounds. Its ability to search an area or loiter for 30 minutes at a range of 70 kilometers (43 miles) is being extended.

A canistered artillery missile, LAM is envisioned as an autonomous, loitering hunter-killer with more than a 200-kilometer (124 miles) range and up to a 45-minute flight time. A solid rocket motor vertically launches the missile. Control surfaces and a pivoting wing deploy as the missile begins a programmed ascent-phase roll and pitch maneuver. Approximately five seconds after launch, the turbojet ignition sequence is completed as the weapon comes up to speed and achieves apogee.

The Army is initially concentrating its NetFires LLC funding priorities on PAM and CLU development and has yet to fund system design and development of LAM. However, prototypes of the square body missiles are scheduled for launch using at least three research vehicles over the next few months, Altman reports. A separate parallel company science and technology program is updating the seeker and providing a highly maneuverable airframe. Changes are necessary to the autopilot and flight controls to perform aerobatic maneuvers that will increase the efficiency of loitering munitions. Faster and higher-g turns conserve fuel, enabling additional searches.

Common missile components and equipment for use by both LAM and PAM are part of the program, providing lower development, production and life-cycle costs. LAM will search wide areas for targets and relay their locations back to commanders, who can then direct PAM and other attack assets to those targets. Commanders also could direct LAM to discontinue a search and attack an alternate target, Altman continues.

Altman, who holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, has spent years designing electrical equipment for various aircraft and advanced missile systems with Lockheed Martin and its predecessor companies. “Lockheed Martin is firmly committed to loitering munitions as the wave of the future and is investing millions of dollars in the technologies, mostly in the LADAR sensor system,” Altman notes. “The seeker is being used for Army and other service programs.”

Altman continues that the Army is enamored with LAM because it reduces the number of soldiers required on the battlefield. The loitering munitions search for and find their targets. “If a target is not where anticipated, LAM searches that area to find the target, reporting the exact location, and then awaits instructions while remaining obedient to man-in-the-loop commands.

“LAM also will scan and search the entire area along its flight path, seeking other targets as it heads toward its assigned target. This loitering munition reports identification of all detected friendly and enemy forces and their precise locations, transmitting three-dimensional images using a chiplet that sends snapshots while en route,” Altman emphasizes. The 50-kilobyte chiplet is smaller and avoids transmitting streaming video at 5 megabytes per second—a 22,000:1 reduction in overall information, easing network and bandwidth demands. “The memory in the seeker stores profiles for dozens of high-value targets—moving or stationary missile launchers, mobile air defense equipment, artillery and armored personnel carriers.” Automatic target recognition algorithms are employed with the seeker.

“LAM’s discriminating capability enables singling out one vehicle from another by measuring three-dimensional characteristics down to 6-inch pixel size. The seeker can tell the differences with great fidelity between very similar vehicles and [can] determine which point on the target to strike when ordered to attack,” Altman declares.

“The sensor is a 1.06-micron pulsed scanning laser that creates a three-dimensional map. An automatic target recognition algorithm uses the bumps of the objects to determine what those objects are,” Altman discloses. “All the clutter is rejected, as are objects too small to be a target. Because of accuracy, the most effective target aim point is selected. This feature translates to arming LAM with a very small self-forging warhead to strike the most vulnerable point of a target from overhead.”

In early January, NetFires LLC performed eight successful tests in New Mexico with LAM’s multiple explosively formed penetrator (MEFP) warhead. The tests proved the warhead’s capability against a wide variety of targets, including firing through the missile’s aerodynamic skin without diminishing lethality. The warhead successfully achieved the required pattern and penetration of armor plates. Aerojet-General Corporation, Sacramento, California, designed and built the warhead to allow LAM to achieve a balance that optimizes both loiter time and lethality, according to Altman.

“At under seven pounds, the MEFP warhead enables additional fuel [to be carried] for the missile and is configured to deliver 24 fragments in an expanding geometric pattern aimed at the most vulnerable part of the target,” Altman says. The precision of the LADAR seeker helps overcome a persistent Army problem called target location error and its associated uncertainty on exactly where a target is within a sensor’s field of view.

“In addition to a loitering missile, LAM is designed to perform as an artillery piece, to handle a mission without any interference from the ground. You simply tell it where to go, what to kill and it will fly out, find and dispatch that target,” Altman illustrates.

LAM and other loitering munitions have achieved multiple successful flight tests with various airframe configurations. This technology will allow artillerymen to shift from shooting at particular coordinates where an enemy may have been reported, to a suspected target location and then search, if that target has moved. Loitering munitions greatly expand the warfighter’s area of influence through hunter-killer missions with automatic target recognition.

Web Resources
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control:
Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation:

Network Speeds Targeting

Loitering cruise missile sensors become nodes, detect, locate enemy to exploit cyberoperations.

Nontraditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets linked to a network-centric architecture greatly reduce engagement cycles against unknown, pop-up targets. Indeed, experiments with loitering cruise missiles as battlefield network nodes have reduced target discovery-to-attack times typically from several hours or more to less than 10 minutes.

The Loitering Attack Missile (LAM), being developed by Lockheed Martin for ground launch by the U.S. Army, is depicted in an artist’s concept. An artillery missile, LAM is equipped with a laser radar seeker that provides highly accurate three-dimensional target images at 6-inch pixel size. LAM is designed to provide imagery via commercial satellite to the Global Information Grid for rapid targeting against mobile enemy forces.
A series of experiments conducted by Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation (SIGNAL Magazine, February 2005) involved both the surveilling miniature attack cruise missile (SMACM), pronounced smack ’em, and the non-line-of-sight launch system (NLOS-LS) loitering attack missile (LAM). In several experiment scenarios, loitering munitions sensors provided intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to detect unknown hostile targets. These experiments were structured for military forces to quickly retrieve vital time-sensitive information transmitted over a global information grid (GIG) testbed in a network environment.

An order of magnitude improvement in information sharing by the warfighter resulted from these experiments. The loitering munitions clearly demonstrated how rapidly ISR data could be gathered on unplanned targets and transmitted for assessment by network users. The management framework from the U.S. Defense Department’s command and control research program was harnessed and tailored for loitering munitions experiments, explains Tom Haser. He is Lockheed Martin’s director, network-centric development, network-centric integration organization.

“The experiment’s hypothesis is if pop-up data is made discoverable and accessible over the GIG, then the tactical operational picture can be expanded with new information more quickly,” according to Haser. “The key metric is speed of information discovery.” In a scenario involving a Navy special operations team in a position ashore, the loitering munitions detected several previously undetected enemy targets approaching the team. ISR information was transmitted to the network and to the operations center aboard a ship off the coast.

Without the network in a conventional environment, the data from the cruise missiles might be transmitted to a groundstation and then relayed via e-mail, telephone, instant messaging or in person up the chain of command before decision makers could act. That information might take hours before reaching the right people, Haser says. A base timeframe was established for the scenario in a conventional, non-net-centric environment and compared to data generated in actual runs over the center’s GIG testbed. Over the course of 24 runs, experiment planners consistently altered variables such as targets and munitions to stretch the system’s capabilities against a realistic testbed environment.

Loitering missile information discovery, along with sharp, clearly defined images identifying threatening pop-up targets and their coordinates, took place in an impressive few minutes. Haser points out that the experiments confirm the value of network operations linked to nontraditional ISR.

Enjoyed this article? SUBSCRIBE NOW to keep the content flowing.