The United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command (ARSOAC), working in conjunction with the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), recently successfully conducted testing of baseline and enhanced system capability Block I variants of the Dynetics GBU-69/B Small Glide Munition (SGM) from an ARSOAC MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS). These flight tests are the first SGM drops conducted from a UAS and represent an expanded platform set from which the munition can be employed.
Four baseline SGM's were released from varying altitudes for an assortment of employment scenarios using existing GPS/INS and semi-active laser guidance capabilities. Capabilities demonstrated included large off boresight engagement and various fuzing modes. Each baseline GBU-69/B munition successfully engaged its intended target within established system accuracy parameters achieving all test objectives.
In addition, two enhanced system capability Block I variants of the SGM incorporating a Raytheon Integrated Communications Systems X-Net™ radio were successfully flown demonstrating the ability to redirect the munition post-launch to an updated target position over a mile away from the initial target location. The X-Net™ radio transmitted critical data including position, velocity, flight mode, and arming status back to the launch platform and a ground control station. The two data link tests were conducted as part of the U.S. Army Architecture, Automation, Autonomy and Interfaces capability (A3I) flight demonstration.
The SGM, which became operational in 2017, was developed by Dynetics working in close collaboration with USSOCOM PEO-Fixed Wing under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Dynetics invested corporate resources to develop the munition which was first demonstrated under the CRADA. The munition was tested, qualified and fielded in less than two years. The success of the SGM program was noted as one of the key accomplishments of the PEO-Fixed Wing Stand-Off Precision Guided Munitions (SOPGM) Team which was recently recognized with the 2018 David Packard Acquisition Excellence Award - the DOD's highest acquisition team award recognizing exemplary performance and innovation acquiring and delivering products and capabilities for the Warfighter.
SGM's Near Term Plans
Dynetics has increased SGM production capacity in response to a 1,000 unit order from USSOCOM in 2018 and expanding future production capacity. Building on the success of the recent Gray Eagle tests, Dynetics is scheduled to initiate integration activities on the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) MQ-9 UAS in early fiscal year 2020.
Background on SGM Enhanced System Capability
Dynetics initiated work with Raytheon Integrated Communications Systems to integrate theX-Net™ radio in 2017. Due to the highly collaborative design effort between the two companies, the SGM was able to accommodate the new hardware component within existing size, weight and power (SWaP) allocations for the munition electronics. A Dynetics-designed deployable mono-pole antenna, stowed under the wing prior to launch, is the only external modification made to the Block I datalink variant.
The RaytheonX-Net™ networked radio was designed to provide In-Flight Target Updates (IFTUs) in order to improve weapon performance in dynamic targeting environments and to receive telemetry data for both weapon performance and post-mission analysis. The X-Net™ is a new small form factor, software-defined, radio that meets the challenging SwaP requirements of small munitions. It is MIL-STD-6016 compatible and supports the SGM's flyout range of over 20 nm.
The incorporation of a two-way datalink will greatly enhance the capabilities of the SGM allowing the weapon to be part of a network consisting of other airborne platforms and tactical air controllers. In the future, networked communications will facilitate collaborative strikes and lead to new tactics expanding SGM capabilities and effectiveness.