The Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Integrated Test Team demonstrated a new, low-cost air capability to defeat maritime threats in the Gulf of Mexico on April 28, 2022.
This was proven when an 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron F-15E Strike Eagle launched a modified GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition which successfully destroyed a large-scale stationary surface ship.
This was the second experience of the QUICKSINK Joint Capability Technology Demonstration.
“QUICKSINK is a response to an urgent need to neutralize maritime threats to freedom around the world,” said Col. Tony Meeks, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate. “The men and women of this leadership are constantly finding ways to solve our country’s greatest challenges.
The QUICKSINK program, a Navy partnership, aims to provide options to neutralize maritime surface threats while demonstrating the inherent flexibility of joint force. This JCTD uses a Joint Direct Attack Munition integrated with a new seeker to quickly demonstrate immediate effect on fixed or moving maritime targets at minimal cost.
“QUICKSINK is unique in that it can provide new capabilities to existing and future DOD weapon systems, providing combatant commanders and our national leaders with new ways to defend against maritime threats,” Kirk said. Herzog, AFRL program manager.
While torpedoes primarily sink enemy ships via submarines, new methods explored by QUICKSINK can achieve anti-ship lethality with air-launched weapons, including modified JDAM 2,000-pound precision-guided bombs.
“Heavy torpedoes are effective [at sinking large ships], but are expensive and used by a small portion of naval assets,” said Major Andrew Swanson, 85th TES Advanced Programs Division Chief. “With QUICKSINK, we have demonstrated an inexpensive and more agile solution that has the potential to be used by the majority of Air Force combat aircraft, giving combat commanders and combatants more options. .”
This latest experiment enabled the researchers to assess the scientific and technological issues associated with the QUICKSINK concept for operational use.
“A navy submarine has the capability to launch and destroy a ship with a single torpedo at any time, but the QUICKSINK JCTD aims to develop an inexpensive method of killing torpedoes from the air at a much higher rate and over a much larger area,” Herzog said.
The role of the 96th Test Wing was that of aircraft maintenance support, test coordination, planning and range availability.
The 780th Test Squadron alone spent 250 hours of effort supporting the test and also capturing the footage. Those hours were spent coordinating seven planes recording the detonation of the weapon from different angles. The team also directed the mission from a control room to ensure the aircraft was in the correct location to collect the required data. They were also in charge of all on-the-fly adjustments to the test plan such as bad weather, etc.
“The QUICKSINK mission was successful thanks to countless hours of planning and preparation by the collective test team,” said Capt. J. Tucker Tipton, 780th TS air-to-ground test flight commander. “This was another example of how the 780th Test Squadron supports weapons development test customers and helps deliver unique capabilities to the warfighter.”