13 February 2012 - by Andrew White – Shepard group
The US Army has conducted tests to network Raytheon's Griffin B missile to an ISTAR sensor payload, designed to protect Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in Afghanistan. Late last year, Raytheon and the army managed to provide 360-degree coverage using a ground launcher and an undisclosed aerostat.
The tests fall the US Army's evaluation of systems for FOB self-defence in Afghanistan, sources suggested. Test firings, which were conducted at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, saw operators engage a static target over 4km away using GPS coordinates generated by the tethered aerostat.
However, Raytheon officials were unable to confirm whether the aerostat used was its own Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) system or Lockheed Martin's Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS), both of which are used in theatre. Describing how the missile had achieved a direct hit and met all test objectives, Harry Schulte, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems’ Air Warfare Systems product line, said: 'Griffin enables ground forces to protect their locations by precisely engaging targets in a 360-degree radius.' Raytheon confirmed that further tests were scheduled towards the end of this quarter. In order to maximise effectiveness of the weapon system, an operator can select a variety of detonation options including air-burst; point detonation; or fuze delay. Griffin has already been used operationally on board C-130 Harvest Hawk and MC-130W Dragon Spear airframes, although Raytheon is unable to confirm or deny the latter. The munition itself was designed to be fired from non-conventional platforms during irregular warfare in order to satisfy special operations requirements. Griffin 'A' is an aft-ejected munition while the 'B' variant is forward-firing for use aboard rotary and fixed-wing aircraft as well as ground launch applications.
Measuring 45 inches and weighing 45 pounds in a launch tube, Griffin has also been integrated onto ground vehicles. It has also been fired from OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter using the Modular Smart Launcher, remote weapon stations and multi-round Wedge launchers. Last year, Raytheon secured regular funding for its Griffin B Block II missile with the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) incorporating the lightweight missile into its FY2012 budget.