Armor: September 30, 2000


NAVY AND MARINES JOIN ARMY IN HUNT FOR "COMMON MISSILE" The Navy and Marines have agreed to join the US Army in studying a new "Common Missile" that could replace TOW, Hellfire, and Maverick. The Navy and Marines will jointly pay 1/3 of the cost of the program. The US Air Force is "interested" in the program but has yet to join it. If all three buy the missile, the total production run could exceed 100,000 units (plus any made for export). The problem has always been that a missile able to be fired from high-speed aircraft (e.g., Maverick) has to be much heavier than one that merely has to launch from an armored vehicle (e.g., TOW). This has always been one of the most ironic things in military missiles; a vehicle with relatively generous load limits (i.e., track-laying armored vehicles) can use much lighter missiles than high speed jet fighters, where every pound hurts performance. The new program will try to find a missile, using advanced technologies and materials, that would be usable by both ground vehicles, helicopters, and attack jets. The Common Missile will be the primary armament of the Comanche helicopter and the Future Combat System family of ground vehicles. The formal production run will begin in 2008.--Stephen V Cole 


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