US Air Force develops new weapon system to defeat maritime threats

The US Air Force has announced the development of a new, low-cost airlift capability to defeat maritime threats.

The Air Force said in a statement that Eglin Air Force Base’s Air Force Research Laboratory and Integrated Test Group demonstrated a new low-cost, air transport capability to defeat threats. threat at sea on April 28, successfully destroyed a large-scale surface ship in the Gulf of Mexico.

An F-15E Strike Eagle launched a modified GBU-31 direct attack munition, or JDAM, as part of this test, the second in the Energy Technology Demonstration. Joint force QUICKSINK, or JCTD, is funded by the Office of the Department of Defense. for Research and Engineering. The test was successful thanks to a collaborative effort with AFRL, the 780th Test Squadron of the 96th Test Wing and the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron of the 53rd Wing.


“QUICKSINK is an answer to the urgent need to neutralize maritime threats to freedom around the world,” said Colonel Tony Meeks, Director of the AFRL Board of Directors. “The men and women of this board are always looking to solve our nation’s greatest challenges.”

AFRL scientists and engineers are developing a weapons open system architecture, or WOSA, that seeks to enable precise placement of weapons. WOSA implementations also reduce costs by providing modularity through the ability to find plug and play components from different manufacturers, which can lead to reduced weapons system costs and enhance performance.

The QUICKSINK program, in partnership with the United States Navy, aims to provide options for neutralizing threats at sea while demonstrating the inherent flexibility of a joint force. This JCTD uses JDAM to rapidly apply an instant effect to stationary or moving marine targets with minimal cost.

Lindsey Heflin’s photo

“QUICKSINK is unique in that it can provide new capabilities for current and future DoD weapon systems, giving our combat commanders and nation leaders new ways to to protect against maritime threats,” said Kirk Herzog, AFRL program director.

While torpedoes primarily sink enemy ships via submarines, new methods explored through QUICKSINK can achieve anti-ship lethality with air-launched weapons, including guided bombs. exactly the JDAM weighs 2,000 pounds.

“Effective heavy torpedoes [at sinking large ships] but expensive and used by a small fraction of naval assets,” said Major Andrew Swanson, division 85 chief of the TES Advanced Program. “With QUICKSINK, we have demonstrated a more agile and low-cost solution capable of being used by the majority of Air Force fighters, providing combat commanders and soldiers alike. more options.”

This latest test allows researchers to assess the scientific and technological challenges associated with the QUICKSINK concept for operational use.

“A Navy submarine is capable of launching and destroying a ship with a torpedo at any time, but QUICKSINK JCTD aims to develop a low-cost method to destroy torpedoes from the air at high speed. much higher elevations and over a much larger area,” said Herzog.

When it was released over the Gulf of Mexico, where Eglin AFB operates the 120,000-square-mile Eglin Bay Training and Test Range, stakeholders watched the QUICKSINK demonstration online thanks to multiple camera feeds from aerial platforms .

“Mission QUICKSINK was a success thanks to hours of planning and preparation by the entire test team,” said Captain J. Tucker Tipton, commander of Air-to-ground Test Flight 780 TS. “This is another example of how the 780th Test Squadron is supporting weapons development testing customers and helping to deliver unique capabilities to the warrior.”

OUSD (R&E) has awarded this JCTD to the AFRL Ordnance Administration in fiscal year 2021 as part of its ongoing Maritime Weapons Program.

“The evolution of this technology is critical to maintaining the United States’ technological superiority and addressing identified national security challenges,” said Gerry Tighe, JCTD executive director of OUSD (R&E) said. “This successful demonstration marks an important milestone.”

AFRL is the technical lead for the QUICKSINK program while the operational director is the US Indo-Pacific Command. The officer who operates the Air Force weapons program serves as the transition manager.

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