Raytheon Peregrine Small Advanced Capability Missile (SACM)
Raytheon announced 16 September 2019 the development of its internally-funded Peregrine air-to-air missile project, expected to provide interested buyers with a powerful interceptor at half the size of missiles being used by militaries presently. A mockup of the Peregrine missile was presented at the Air Force Association’s annual National Convention in Washington, DC. The missile is meant to combine the medium-range AIM-120 and the maneuverability of the short-range AIM-9X, but in a smaller form factor to increase the magazine depth of stealth aircraft. The Peregrine missile measures at a length of 6 feet, with a total weight of roughly 150 pounds - about half the length and mass of the Mach 4 AIM-120 interceptor.
Webster's definition of "peregrine" is "having a tendency to wander". The current meaning of peregrine has wandered from its early meanings. The word originally meant "foreign," as did its Latin predecessor peregrinus. But even before peregrine appeared on its own in English, it was part of the name of the well-known bird of prey, the peregrine falcon. The bird's appellation derives from "falco peregrinus" — literally, "pilgrim falcon" in Medieval Latin.
The American peregrine falcon is one of the best known raptors in North America. There are three subspecies of peregrines in North America: the American or continental peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum), the tundra or arctic peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus tundrius), and the Peale’s peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus pealei). The peregrine falcon is one of nature's swiftest and most beautiful birds of prey. This impressive bird has long been noted for its speed, grace, and aerial skills. Peregrine falcons live mostly along mountain ranges, river valleys, and coastlines.
Peregrine falcons feed primarily on other birds, such as songbirds, shorebirds, ducks, and - in urban areas - starlings and pigeons. Flying high above their intended prey, peregrines will 'stoop' or dive and strike in mid-air, killing the prey with a sharp blow. Scientists estimate the speed of a diving peregrine to be more than 200 miles per hour. Peregrine falcons are found throughout the world, except Antarctica. Humans have prized trained falcons for their flight skills and hunting ability for at least 3,000 years, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia and China.
Air superiority is an important aspect of modern day warfare, and can generally be obtained in a number of ways including aircraft stealth, precision weapons, advanced targeting technologies, etc. Modern day US tactical aircraft have been successful in countering enemy missiles through various technologies, such as shooting out chaff from the aircraft, towing decoys behind the aircraft, shooting flares from the aircraft, etc., all of which are intended to confuse or draw away the incoming missile threat. However, the ability to operate largely uncontested in a particular air space as a result of these and other capabilities has been continually eroded over time, where the capability to track and defeat missile threats is decreasing. Further, exclusive reliance on even higher levels of reduced observability will be insufficient to ensure unfettered freedom of operation in the future.
Raytheon Co., Tucson, Arizona was awarded 20 January 2016 a not-to-exceed $14,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity cost contract for research and development in support of increased capabilities for next-generation, air-launched, tactical missiles. Contractor would work to increase the number of missiles carried on a single sortie, increase the effectiveness of each missile, and enhance the platform survivability against all threats in an anti-access, area denial (A2AD) environment. Two research concepts to fulfill these needs are the Small Advanced Capability Missile (SACM) and Miniature Self-Defense Munition (MSDM).
The SACM will support affordable, highly lethal, small size and weight ordnance with advanced air frame design and synergistic control capabilities for air dominance enabling high air-to-air load-out. The MSDM will support miniaturized weapon capabilities for air superiority by enabling close-in platform self-defense and penetration into contested A2AD environment with little to no impact to payload capacity. Work will be performed at Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be complete by Jan. 19, 2021. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with four offers received. Fiscal 2016 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $388,905 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity (FA8651-16-D-0314).
Without offering too much detail on the Peregrine project, Mark Noyes, vice president of business development and strategy for Raytheon Missile Systems, told the outlet that the missile uses a “multimode autonomous seeker” to pinpoint on a target. “Peregrine will allow US and allied fighter pilots to carry more missiles into battle to maintain air dominance,” Thomas Bussing, vice president of Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems, said in a statement obtained by Defense News.
“With its advanced sensor, guidance and propulsion systems packed into a much smaller airframe, this new weapon represents a significant leap forward in air-to-air missile development.” The missile is said to be effective against drones, manned aircraft and cruise missiles. Air Force-Technology reports that it’s presently unclear whether the missile was designed with a specific customer in mind.
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