SiAW missile: USAF chooses Northrop Grumman

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Northrop Grumman was chosen as the sole winner of Phase 1 for the USAF’s future SiAW missile. The latter allocated a budget of $705 million for further development and testing. This missile will mainly equip the USAF F-35s and destroy high-value targets on stand-by.

On May 25, 2022, the USAF launched the Phase 1 of the development of its future supersonic air-to-ground missile, called Stand-in Attack Wepon (SiAW). Three companies were selected for phase 1: Lockheed Martin, L3Harris and Northrop Grumman. However, on September 25, 2023, the USAF seems to have made its choice: it granted a budget of $705 million to Northrop Grumman (Press release), which can now move up to phase 2. Thus, during the next 36 months, the American aerospace company will have to develop the missile but also verify its integration on platforms as well as test the missile in flight:

  • Phase 2.1: a guided vehicle will perform a flight test
  • Phase 2.2: three additional test flights and delivery of unfired prototypes as well as test resources

Work and development will be carried out from the Northridge factory (California, USA) and the Rocket Center “factory of the future” (West Virginia, USA). In terms of timetable, the USAF plans an initial operational capability (IOC) for 2026. Its targets will be multiple:

  • command post
  • ballistic or cruise missile launcher
  • GPS jamming system
  • anti-satellite systems
  • other high value targets

Thanks to an open architecture, SiAW can quickly be improved. It will also replace the USAF’s AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles, while becoming more precise with greater autonomy than the HARM. As its name suggests, this missile will be designed to be fired stand-in, that is, within range of enemy air defenses. In fact, the carrier plane will necessarily be a stealth plane. Previous statements indicated that the F-22 Raptor fighter jet could not carry this missile in its cargo hold, effectively leaving the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet as the only delivery platform. However, it remains to be seen whether the B-2A Spirit and future B-21 Raider stealth strategic bombers will also be capable of carrying this missile.

It should be noted the resemblance of the future USAF SiAW to the US Navy’s AGM-88G AARGM-ER anti-radar missile. It is explained quite simply by the fact that the SiAW is based on the AARGM-ER – also developed and built by Northrop Grumman – but with a view to destroying various targets and not only to meet the need for a suppression mission. enemy air defenses (SEAD).

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