A NEW WEAPON WILL MAKE THE AC-130 GUNSHIP EVEN MORE LETHAL

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Special operations forces plan to buy 1,000 GBU-69/B SGMs, equipping Lockheed Martin AC-130 gunships and other aircraft

According to FlightGlobal, U.S. Air Force (USAF) will soon equip its special operations aircraft with a newly-developed, guided munition developed by an Alabama-based company with a growing portfolio of sophisticated weapons and vehicle systems.

The service in fact has placed a sole-source order for 70 GBU-69/B Small Glide Munitions (SGMs) with Dynetics. The contract also has an option to buy 30 more weapons.

The SGM is a 50lb class, Stand-Off Precision Guided Munition (SOPGM) that can be integrated into a Common Launch Tube (CLT). Noteworthy, since the contract for the SGM was awarded without a competition the Rapid Acquisition Cell at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) explained in great detail in a justification and approval document why three potential competitors have been rule out.

GBU-69/B Small Glide Munition

In fact one competitive advantage the SGM has over Raytheon’s Griffin is its all-azimuth launch capability. It’s 36-lb. blast-fragmentation warhead is also more lethal than Northrop Grumman’s Viper Strike munition. Finally the seeker for Textron’s G-CLAW failed in a flight test and its maturity remains 2-3 years behind the SGM.

In the same document the Rapid Acquisition Cell revealed that special operations forces plan to buy 1,000 SGMs, equipping AC-130 gunships and other aircraft.

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However this is not the first time that USAF ruling has put Dynetics in the unusual position of scoring a prime contract for a niche weapon amidst much larger companies. In 2002, Dynetics designed and developed the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, which was produced in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory. Furthermore Dynetics played a key role as a Boeing subcontractor in developing the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb.

“We’re sort of filling the void where the quantities of what the customers desire or what they want demonstrated just doesn’t move the needle for the large primes,” a Dynetics executive, who requests to remain anonymous, told FlightGlobal.

Dynetics’ next step could be more ambitious. In partnership with target-drone maker Kratos and small turbofan manufacturer Williams, Dynetics is competing against General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for the Gremlins program, which is aim to develop small unmanned air systems that can be launched and retrieved from C-130s.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Graphic: Dynetics

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