The Army has launched a potentially $200 million program to acquire a medium-range
air-defense vehicle that would serve as an intermediate capability between the
extended-range Patriot and the short-range Avenger.
The system, called the surface-launched advanced medium range air-to-air missile
(SLAMRAAM), would defend against enemy cruise and ballistic missiles, unmanned
aircraft and helicopters.
The air-defense weapon is the Air Force active seeker AIM-120C AMRAAM missile,
which would be launched from a heavy variant of the Humvee truck. The system
also includes the Sentinel radar and a fire control station.
The Army budgeted $28 million for SLAMRAAM in fiscal year 2004. The development
phase will take at least five years. By 2008, the Army expects to field one
battalion of 24 fire units, 10 integrated fire control stations and an inventory
of more than 100 AIM 120C missiles.
The Marine Corps is buying a similar vehicle, a Humvee-mounted launcher called
CLAWS (Complementary Low Altitude Weapon System).
“The SLAMRAAM system that is to be developed would have been extremely
effective against the Iraqi cruise missile threat and would have saved countless
dollars,” said Jeff Stevens, deputy product manager, in a statement published
in an Army web site. He noted that SLAMRAAM will operate side-by-side with the
Avenger, a Humvee-based launcher that fires short-range Stinger missiles.
The Army plans to select a contractor for SLAMRAAM next year, who will be responsible
to integrate the launcher with government-supplied AMRAAM missiles. The system
also must be made interoperable with Patriot and Avenger.
Proposals were due July 21. It appears, however, that only one industry team
submitted a bid for SLAMRAAM. When the Army first released a solicitation, four
contractors submitted white papers: Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Teledyne
For the final bid, Raytheon teamed with Boeing (Boeing had lost the Marine
Corps CLAWS competition to Raytheon). Northrop Grumman opted to drop out. A
Teledyne Brown spokesperson said the company would not comment.
Officials at the Aviation and Missile Command said they could not comment on
whether the service would proceed with the program even if only one bid was
“In accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, we cannot discuss
the details about the on-going source selection process,” said an AMCOM
spokesperson. “Therefore, we cannot discuss the number of proposals received
in response to the Request for Proposals.”
Raytheon’s deputy program manager for ground combat systems, Bob Filosa,
said the company proposed a launcher based on the Marine CLAWS system. “The
heart of the system is the battle management control, which the Army calls the
integrated fire control system,” Filosa said in an interview.
He noted that the SLAMRAAM requirements evolved during the past couple of years
from a stand-alone platform to a more integrated system that is part of a broad
“Originally it was like the Marines’ program—a launcher and
a fire control system. Now, it’s a total integrated system with compatibility
with Avenger, Patriot and with THAAD [the theater high-altitude air defense
system],” said Filosa.
The Army decided it needed air defenses that are more mobile than Patriot batteries,
but with a longer range than the Stinger Avenger, said Steven Ignat, director
of business development at Raytheon Missile Systems. “SLAMRAAM can move
with the division or the Stryker brigades, to protect forward deployed units,”
he said in an interview.
Several countries currently operate ground-launched AMRAAMs, he added.
Systems like Avenger traditionally were designed to defend against fixed-wing
and rotary-wing aircraft. But the threat has evolved to cruise missiles and
UAVs, which justified the need for SLAMRAAM, Ignat said.
The SLAMRAAM also could be incorporated into the Future Combat Systems, even
though the FCS basic formation, called the unit of action, will not have organic
air defense. Rather, the air defense will be provided by a higher echelon, called
the unit of employment. The Army plans to begin fielding FCS in 2010.
“SLAMRAAM is intended to be organic to the unit of employment and will
provide support to the unit of action,” said the AMCOM spokesman.
Raytheon officials, however, predict that the SLAMRAAM may end up as part of
the unit of action. “The FCS unit of action doesn’t have organic
air defense. That has gotten congressional folks concerned,” said Ignat.
“FCS will deploy rapidly and become vulnerable to air attack. ... If they
are missing a piece of the combined arms, they are vulnerable.”
The decision of whether to include air-defense platforms in the unit of action
eventually may be driven by the commander’s needs, noted Roger Krone,
Boeing vice president for Army programs, who oversees the FCS project. “Today,
the Army usually deploys a division. It’s unlikely that they would deploy
a unit of action without at least part of a unit of employment. ... If it’s
a situation when we have dominance of the air space, then air defense may be
less important. It’s going to be very situational dependent.”
Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Yakovac, program executive officer for Army ground combat
systems, said that the FCS specifications require that the direct-fire vehicle
be able to engage hovering helicopters and UAVs. “Anything outside of
the range of the line of sight of the weapon would come from an attached capability
[an augmentation to that unit],” Yakovac told National Defense. “That
could change, but that is how it’s set up right now.”
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