United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to commence work on “Gunslinger program” to develop an air-launched tactical range missile system with a gun system, next year.
“This system will utilize the high maneuverability of a missile system coupled with a gun system capable of scalable effects and engagement of multiple targets,” DARPA said in its fiscal 2021 budget to the Pentagon.
These mission sets addressed will include counter insurgency (COIN) operations, close air support (CAS) and air-to-air engagements. The metrics associated with this system include total range (which includes transit to target, loiter and engagement) and weapon system effectiveness.
The program will address the system and technology issues required to enable development of a missile system considering
(1) vehicle concepts possessing the required aerodynamic, propulsion, and payload capacity for a wide operational envelope,
(2) the algorithms that support maneuvering and target recognition to enable expedited command decision making for selecting and engaging targets
(3) approaches to incorporating modularity of design to reduce cost throughout the design and development process.
The anticipated transition partners for this effort are the Air Force and the Navy.
In 2021, DARPA plans to conduct studies to include propulsion, munitions, sensors, GPS and communications; develop higher fidelity modeling and simulation environment to support program concept of operations; and conduct conceptual design sizing and synthesis activities.