Triple Target Terminator (T3); DRADM

DARPA has awarded two competitive development contracts to Boeing and raytheon, to conduct conceptual design and development of a multi-mission air/air and air/ground missile dubbed ‘Triple Target Terminator’ (T3). The program, part of the agency’s advanced weapons initiative, is pursuing a high speed, long-range missile that can engage enemy aircraft, cruise missile and air defense targets. T3 will be designed for internal carriage on stealth aircraft like the F-35, F-22 and F-15SE, or externally on fighters, bombers and UAVs.

An illustration depicting the Triple Target Terminator (T3) Future multi-mission missile, an initiative led by DARPA to provide 5th Generation figters and unmanned combat aircraft with common air/air and defense supression weapon.

T3 would allow strike fighter aircraft to rapidly switch between air-to-air and air-to-surface (counter-air) capabilities. The missile is likely to be equipped with multi-mode seeker and network-centric data links, providing high level of target discrimination, employment of kinetic network-centric applications and human-in-the-loop control. An advanced multi-purpose warhead will be required to engage the wide range of targets with maximum lethality.

Raytheon and Boeing were each awarded $21.3 million contracts in November 2010, for the development of T3. The companies are expected to deliver conceptual designs within a year, and continue developing the future weapon, providing prototype missiles for flight demonstration by 2014.

Parallel to DARPA’s T3 program the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is also examining new technologies for a future air/air weapon known as ‘DRADM‘. Boeing was awarded contracts for the demonstration of a vector thrust propulsion and control, terminal guidance sensors, shaped-charge warhead and fuse mechanism for such a missile. In 2010 DARPA has also funded technology tradeoff studies associated with similar aspects of T3. It has yet to be determined whether the two programs will compete or supplement each other in a common design. ATK, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have teamed up to pursue future, dual-role missile development to date, but none of these companies were awarded contracts for T3 or DRADM.

Whatever the future missile will be, it is expected to replace current AIM-120 AMRAAM and AGM-88 HARM ‘air dominance’ missiles currently in service with U.S. air Combat Command, U.S. Navy, Marines, and many allied air forces.

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