Air Force weapons program expands UAS lethality
US Air Force representatives are currently reviewing industry white papers describing new weapon designs and technologies that could expand the lethal aspects of future UAS operations.
The industry white papers were solicited by the Munitions Directorate of Air Force Research Laboratory (Eglin AFB, Florida), under a Broad Agency Announcement titled “Miniature Weapon Demonstration” (MWD).
As described in the initial announcement, “MWD serves as a risk reduction program for development of airframe, miniature ordnance package and guidance, navigation and control (GNC)/seeker technologies needed for an air-launched, precision miniature munition capability. Such a precision miniature munition would provide a mobile target kill capability against a broad set of targets in a suburban environment. The challenge is to design a robust suite of technologies that will integrate into an affordable solution.”
Program objectives include the identification, assessment, development, and demonstration of “an affordable precision miniature weapon concept. The primary technology area to be developed and demonstrated should include miniature ordnance package (warhead, fuze and safe & arm), miniature weapon guidance/seeker technologies and agile airframe technologies.”
Although the Broad Agency Announcement does not specifically identify unmanned aerial systems as MWD platforms, industry participants widely believe that the requirement is optimized for UAS application.
Industry white paper responses were submitted on 1 June 2009, with the stated government expectation “that one of the white papers may be selected for further consideration, and its originators may subsequently be requested to submit formal written technical and cost proposals, with the intent of negotiating one contract for the MWD program. However, the Government reserves the right to award one, multiple, or no contracts pursuant to this [Broad Agency Announcement].”
It is expected that any follow-on contracts will consist of two task orders: Concept Development and Preliminary Testing (ranging from Technology Readiness Level assessment to risk reduction compoent level testing); and Concept Refinement, Component Testing & Initial Flight Test Vehicle Design.
According to the initial announcement, the Government anticipates negotiating one Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ), Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee (CPFF) contract for the MWD effort, with the first task order issued with contract award and the second task order awarded only after review of initial task order deliverables.
Although the Government expects to fund up to approximately $7 million on contract for those task orders the potential expansion to a $17 million ceiling on the IDIQ could allow for additional in-scope tasks to be awarded later if additional funding becomes available.
Based on the white papers already submitted, the government expects to request proposals within 2 weeks, to receive proposals within 30 days thereafter, and to negotiate and award one or more contracts within 8-9 weeks after that (Sep 2009).
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