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Air Force tests collaborative small diameter bombs

Jan. 7 (UPI) — The Air Force Golden Horde Vanguard program has completed the first flight demonstration of collaborative small diameter bombs, the Air Force announced.

According to the service, a team from the Air Force Test Center flew an F-16 Fighting Falcon and released two collaborative small diameter bombs during a mid-December test.


Collaborative small diameter bombs are small diameter bombs that have been modified with a collaborative network system that allows them to work together to identify targets.

“The Golden Horde demonstration with the Small Diameter Bomb flights is an important step on the path to Networked Collaborative Weapon systems. Completion of this first mission sets the stage for further development and transition to the warfighter,” Chris Ristich, AFRL Transformational Capabilities Office director, said in a press release.

During the test, the CSDBs quickly established communication with each other and their seekers detected a GPS jammer, according to the Air Force.

But the weapons referred to predefined rules of engagement, determined that the jammer was not the highest priority target and then collaborated to identify two higher priority targets.

Due to an improper weapons software load, the collaboration guidance commands were not sent to the weapon navigation system, so the weapons instead impacted a failsafe target location.

The demonstration is a first step for the Golden Horde program, which is focused on advancing networked, collaborative and autonomous weapon capabilities through live and virtual testing.

The weapons’ collaborative algorithms use a dynamic approach called play calling, similar to a quarterback calling a play in football. This means they can enable or disable when they meet certain conditions and only execute based on an approved list of plays.

“I’m very pleased with the results of this first test,” stated Steven Stockbridge, Golden Horde’s principal investigator.

“The team saw good performance from the networked collaborative sub-systems and understood the root cause of the weapons not impacting the desired targets. We anticipate readiness for the next flight test,” Stockbridge said.

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