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AFRL concludes Dialable Effects Munition JCTD programme

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on 17 August announced that it had finalised its Dialable Effects Munition (DEM) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) programme with a live flight test of the experimental weapon system on 28 July.

Established in 2018, the DEM is an Office of the Secretary of Defense-funded JCTD initiative between the AFRL and the US Navy, which “aims to mature, demonstrate and transition technologies that enable a weapon's effects to be tailored dynamically in flight”, the AFRL said in a press release.

The DEM solution is a 2,000 lb air-to-surface munition containing a number of AFRL Munitions Directorate technologies as well as contributions from the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command and contractor partners including Faxon Machining and L3 Harris. DEM technologies include a pre-formed fragment warhead case, an electronic safe and arm device, distributed embedded firesets, and a precision height-of-burst sensor. Those technologies control the weapon's lethal footprint, fragment speed, and direction, while a GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kit guides the munition to the target.

With DEM, the pilot is able to select munition effects based on three critical mission areas: an Area Attack effect that detonates high above the target for maximum dispersed effects over the area where collateral damage is not an issue; a Precise Lethal Footprint effect that detonates lower over the target to confine effects to a small area for low-collateral damage; and a Surface Target Perforation effect that detonates after the weapon punches through a structure. “While the technology is useful in weapons of many sizes, a large form factor will give the Department of the Air Force a unitary weapon that performs as well or better than current cluster munitions; albeit, without the concerns of unexploded ordnance [UXO],” the AFRL said.

A Dialable Effects Munition delivers a precision effect to a target during a demonstration of the weapon's capabilities on 28 July. (US Air Force)

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