July 13, 2005 Meet the Loitering Attack Missile (LAM) – or perhaps that should be, hope you never meet it. The LAM is an integral part of the Army's Future Combat Systems and when it goes into service, the 60-inch, 120-pound missile will make life very unpredictable for enemies of the United States. The LAM will be an expendable, loitering hunter-killer, equipped with laser radar seeker and autonomous target recognition – among several very high tech features of the missile is its micro turbojet engine capable of loitering 30 minutes at ranges of 70 kilometres. In addition to its lethal capabilities, the LAM will provide commanders with additional target location and identification capabilities and has two-way data links for retasking in flight and down-linking battlefield images. In summary, the LAM loiters for 30 minutes, identifying battlefield targets and towards the end of its 30 minute mission, or when a priority target appears, it can break off its search and attack the target or any other target under the direction of its commanders.
The LAM is developing nicely, and its propulsion system uses a remarkable engine from Technical Directions Inc. (TDI) of Ortonville, Michigan. The TDI micro turbojet engine has unique design features that make it compact, low-cost and easy to assemble. The engine was designed to use automotive turbocharger parts for the compressor and turbine wheels, with fuel used to lubricate and cool the bearings, eliminating the need for heavy lubricating oil. Altitude chamber and flight testing of the engine system confirmed its full operational capability. The 7-inch-diameter turbojet weighs 16 lbs and generates 100 lbs of thrust at 96,000 rpm.
"After an exhaustive and rigorous evaluation of all engine options available today, this was the only micro-turbojet engine on the market that demonstrated the ability to meet the NLOS-LS LAM performance requirements," said Dennis Stalmach, senior propulsion engineer at Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control. "And the cost of this engine is a fraction of the cost of other similar engines, which will result in a much lower cost product for our customer."
The TDI engines were designed to be assembled in 15 minutes, while the total time allocated for assembly, acceptance testing and packaging for shipment is under two hours, a significant discriminator in the ability to quickly and cost-effectively deliver engines on time and within budget.
"A small, reliable, low-cost turbojet engine was just the solution we needed for LAM," said Glenn Kuller, director - Netted Fires at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "All of the pieces are falling into place on the LAM program, and we're eager to get this highly effective weapon into the hands of our Soldiers as soon as possible."
The NLOS-LS LAM is a ground-launched, canistered tactical missile capable of increasing the warfighter's area of influence through hunter-killer flight operation, automatic target recognition, and can attack high value targets or report their target locations for attack by other weapons systems.
LAM's LADAR seeker provides three-dimensional analysis of potential targets. The LAM vehicle is 62 inches long and weighs 117 pounds, and can search a wide area or loiter for 30 minutes at a range of 70 kilometers. Two-way data links on LAM will provide for re-tasking while in-flight and down-linking of images.