The U.S. Air Force has awarded three-month contracts to Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and L3Harris Technologies to support the initial phase of a program meant to build a stand-in attack weapon that could be used by the F-35 fighter aircraft to counter hostile air defenses, Defense News reported Wednesday.
Lena Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s armament directorate, said each of the contracts, which were awarded on May 25, is valued at $2 million.
The SIAW program’s first phase focuses on digital engineering and design and the service branch said the air-to-ground weapon system would enable warfighters to destroy integrated air defense systems, GPS jammers, land-attack and anti-ship cruise missile launchers, ballistic missile launchers and other enemy targets that create an anti-access/area denial environment.
According to the report, the service’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal sought $78 million to procure 42 weapon units through the SIAW program.
Michael Stuart, director of business development at Northrop, said the Air Force plans to adopt an open-system architecture to enable the weapon to integrate different modular platforms and facilitate upgrades.