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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Air Force, Lockheed advance airlifters assessment

© Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has secured a $25 million contract from the Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) Office to assess airlifters potential to deliver large volumes of air-launched weapons.

The initiative would involve the next phase of the Palletized Munitions Experimentation Campaign. Phase four includes a system-level demonstration in 2021 while continually assessing airlifter capabilities.

“Despite the Palletized Munitions program being relatively new, it’s moving very quickly,” Scott Callaway, Lockheed Martin Advanced Strike Systems director, said. “The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contracting and Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) offices, and Lockheed Martin teams established this new contract in a record time of 30 days, supporting faster prototyping and a shorter timeline to bring this advanced capability to the warfighter in the field.”

Per Lockheed Martin, studies determined airlifters possess the potential to deploy large quantities of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles – providing an increase in long-range standoff scale and complementing traditional strike and bomber aircraft.

The approach enables warfighters to launch offensive operations from a greater number of airfields and engage a larger number of near-peer adversarial targets.

The assessment seeks to develop a modular system to deliver air-launched weapons, leveraging standard airdrop procedures, and operations.

The system would have the ability to be rolled on and off multiple aircraft types, including the C-17 and C-130.