Focused Lethality: The Mk82 QRC Program
The “Focused Lethality Munition” is a variant of the 250 pound Small Diameter Bomb I that changes its casing and internal fill, in order to produce more devastating effects within a smaller area. A carbon-fiber bomb body disintegrates instead of fragmenting, which adds explosive force nearby, but largely removes sharpnel issues farther away. Inside, metal particles turn the bomb’s explosive material into short-range projectiles. The result is especially useful in urban areas, in situations where friendly elements are close to the impact zone, and in campaigns fought using contemporary American counter-insurgency doctrine.
Now the USA wants a bigger, but still confined, bang. Enter the Precision Lethality MK82 Quick Reaction Capability Program, designed to turn 500 pound bombs into similar but larger weapons.
Note that bombs and guidance systems are effectively separate things. A Mk.82 Focused Lethality Munition is just a bomb body. With the right tail kit screwed in, it could become a GPS-guided JDAM. Or it could add nose and tail kits, and become a laser-guided Paveway smart bomb. The GBU-39 SDB-I adds GPS guidance, with a pop-out wing kit on the bomb’s back to lengthen its glide range. There are many possibilities.
May 24/11: GenCorp subsidiary Aerojet General Corp. in Rancho Cordova, CA receives a not to exceed $31.8 million firm fixed price contract modification for Precision Lethality MK82 Quick Reaction Capability warhead cases and internal components. Under the contract, Aerojet will deliver 400 warhead cases and internal components, and provide support for first article inspection of warheads manufactured on steel mandrels and configuration control boards. They’ll also ship 50 test warhead cases and internal components to the USAF, 70 sets to the US Navy, and provide post initial operation capability support for both services.
Aerojet had previous experience with Boeing’s GBU-39 Small Diamater Bomb I: they load its insensitive munitions explosive, and they also supported the Focused Lethality Munition variant and its composite casing.
Work will be performed at Rancho Cordova, CA. At this time, $15.6 million has been committed by the AAC/EBSK at Eglin Air Force Base, FL (FA8677-10-C-0335, PO 0007). This entry was issued by the Pentagon as an updated version of their previous May 17/11 announcement.
Nov 10/10: US FedBizOpps announces a $4.8 million award to Aerojet General Corp. in Rancho Cordova, CA, exercising an option of CLIN(Contract Line Item Number) 00004 in the BLU-129/B QRC program (FA8677-10-C-0335, PO 0001).
Sept 21/10: Aerojet General Corp. in Cordova, CA receives an $8.1 million contract to manufacture empty warhead cases, as part of the Precision Lethality MK82 Quick Reaction Capability Program. $4 million has been committed by the AAC/EBSK at Eglin Air Force Base, FL (FA8677-10-C-0335).
June 24/10: Us FedBizOpps solicitation #BLU-129_Sources_Sought:
“Precision Lethality MK82 is a Quick Reaction Capability acquisition program to field a 500-lb composite case warhead (BLU-129) capability in response to a United States Central Command Joint Urgent Operational Need for a very low collateral damage weapon… Upon completion of the design update, AAC will work with LLNL to test warhead performance, integrate it with Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Laser JDAM guidance kits, and certify the weapon for fielding as early as the 1st quarter of CY2011.
AAC plans to award a contract in August 2010 for manufacturing of 125-175 warheads to support the test program. Assuming successful test results, a one-time production option for 400-800 empty warheads will be awarded in the December 2010 timeframe to support BLU-129/B fielding, with the initial 50 qualified warheads available NLT January 2011 and the final warheads delivered within 12 months of initial deliveries. The Government will perform fill of the empty warheads. This schedule is necessary to meet the urgent need requirement. The warheads must be manufactured in conformance with LLNL-designed drawings and manufacturing procedures. These procedures will involve carbon-fiber-wound construction of the warhead casing and integrated steel components.”
May 2010: The US Air Force Reseach Laboratory (AFRL) funds Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to complete a 3-month effort to mature their 2005 500-lb warhead design to meet the BLU-129 QRC operational performance requirements. Source.
March 29/10: The US Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell directs the Department of the Air Force to rapidly develop and field the BLU-129 using the same composite case warhead and Multi-phase Blast Explosive technologies used in the 250-lb Small Diameter Bomb Focused Lethality Munition. Source.