It seems the US Army is actively looking for potential vendors to provide it with a replacement for the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, currently used by Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
As part of the process, the Army is searching for long-range precision munitions options for a “shoot-off” demonstration scheduled for the last quarter of the fiscal year 2022.
According to reports, the US Army has already picked Israeli defense company Rafael’s Spike non-line-of-sight missile as an interim solution for both current and future fleet of helicopters.
The missiles were selected after extensive demonstrations on both foreign and American AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. Since the Spike missile boasts a range of around 30-kilometers, other competitors will surely have to meet the benchmark set by it.
Long-range munitions for the service’s future aircraft are considered very crucial in order to engage the enemy’s defensive positions from a comfortable standoff or out-of-detection range of the enemy.
Last year, the US Army had said that it would be conducting a few fly-offs in order to test possible long-range precision firing munitions. The Army wants the weapons to keep its rotorcraft out of the reach of adversaries’ surface-to-air missiles.
— U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (@INDOPACOM) July 26, 2016
According to a request for information posted online on February 2, the US Army says, “It is the Army’s intent to conduct this demonstration to inform the [Long Range Precision Munition] capabilities development and to inform the selection of a single or multiple vendors to build, integrate, test, and/or qualify on Army aviation platforms.”
As per the RFI, prospective vendors need to provide a technical information paper to the US Army, which will outline the respective weapon’s chosen concept and capabilities.
“Prior to the demonstration, the government will conduct a design maturity assessment based on the [technical information paper], digital simulation results, and industry day meetings to determine current state and growth potential and whether the vendor’s concept will be ready to demonstrate capabilities at the shoot-off,” says the US Army.
The data from the demonstrations will be used by the US Army to award a single or multiple prototype contracts using ‘Other Transaction Authority’ agreements.
This particular sort of government contracting mechanism has been favored by the US Department of Defense in recent years, due to its fewer regulations.
Following the prototyping competition, the Army says it might grant a production and fielding contract for its preferred weapon.
The army wants the long-range precision munition to be ready for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), expected to be fielded by 2028.
“A vendor’s munition solution must be a mature design, clearly allowing support to Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft integration and demonstration in FY2026,” said the US Army.