Lockheed Martin has received a $110 million, five-year Phase 1 contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory to develop and demonstrate a new low-cost cruise missile called Gray Wolf. 

The Gray Wolf programme, say Lockheed, seeks to develop ‘low-cost, subsonic cruise missiles that use open architectures and modular design to allow for rapid prototyping and spiral growth capabilities’.

The AFRL is developing the missiles to feature networked, collaborative behaviours (swarming) to address Integrated Air Defence (IAD) system threats around the world.

“Lockheed Martin’s concept for the Gray Wolf missile will be an affordable, counter-IAD missile that will operate efficiently in highly contested environments,” said Hady Mourad, Advanced Missiles Programme director for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Using the capabilities envisioned for later spirals, our system is being designed to maximise modularity, allowing our customer to incorporate advanced technologies such as more lethal warheads or more fuel-efficient engines, when those systems become available.” 

Lockheed say:

“The Gray Wolf program consists of four spiral-development phases that allow for rapid technology prototyping and multiple transition opportunities. This first phase, defined by an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, is anticipated to run until late 2019. Initial demonstrations will be from an F-16 aircraft. In addition to the F-16, the system will be designed for compatibility with F-35, F-15, F-18, B-1, B-2 and B-52 aircraft.”

“Our AFRL customer will benefit from decades of Lockheed Martin experience in building high-quality, low-cost systems like GMLRS, while capitalising on the experience of our team in developing and integrating advanced cruise missiles such as JASSM and LRASM on military aircraft,” Mourad said.

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Geoffrey Roach

A programme the UK could join?


So does this mean LRASM is an unaffordable networked cruise missile? And where does this leave the Anglo-French initiative to replace Exocet, Harpoon and Scalp?


More along the lines of two different approaches LRASM = Stealth and Gray Wolf = Saturation Strikes. Different development paths using the same network tech to accomplish the same goal.



David Steeper

LRASM is a generation ahead of this.


This kind of approach could be used to tackle the hypersonic threat. It is far more difficult to avoid two tacklers irrespective of speed – especially if the defensive team knows where the attacker is heading. The first missile forces a course change but in doing so, given a generally fixed destination the number of possible flight paths to that point is correspondingly reduced, especially when travelling quickly. As such interception by the second missile would be far easier. With enough defenders the missile is either forced off track or intercepted. Anyone who has played rugby will understand. Punt the… Read more »


Mmmm. This looks a bit like what I imagine Spear 3 will be; a subsonic, longer range networked Brimstone. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. With our special relationship with the US we can invite them to join the Spear 3 program…..


This is nothing like Spear 3. Two days after the award of this contract the US awarded an identical contract to Northrop Grumman. The US is looking for a vey inexpensive missile that can be produced cheaply enough and in sufficient quantities to overwhelm an enemy’s defense. It is a technology demonstration effort.