USAF in search of ultra-low-cost, highly manufactable cruise missiles 14/06/2024 | Gabriele Molinelli

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), in cooperation with the US Air Force Armament Directorate, announced on June 3 that it has awarded contracts to Anduril, Integrated Solutions for Systems Inc., Leidos Dynetics, and Zone 5 Technologies for the Enterprise Test Vehicle (EVT) programme. The goal of this programme is to conduct, within 7 months, flight tests of novel 'airborne medium-range precision delivery vehicles' that should be modular, inexpensive, and can be rapidly produced in large numbers to overcome current limitations in the ability to acquire and produce sufficient quantities of missiles or drones. The line between drone and cruise missile is in this case deliberately very blurred. Indeed, the programme is about the development of a modular, open-architecture 'vehicle' that can accelerate the development and deployment of further new capabilities through multiple programmes for weapon systems, including fostering integration, testing and qualification activities for new subsystems and materials. The platform is required to have a minimum range of 500 nautical miles, the ability to be armed with a 'kinetic' payload and a minimum cruising speed of 100 knots. The vehicle must also have a 'form factor' that favours its use in large numbers and also gravity release from cargo planes. After initial flight demonstrations, the programme will fund one or more candidate systems for further development. Zone 5 Technologies and Integrated Solutions for Systems Inc. have published renders of their own designs (Integrated Solutions for Systems Inc.'s is pictured), which look like modern low-observable cruise missiles such as the JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile).

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