Raytheon awarded $315 million Griffin missile contract for US special forces

Raytheon has been awarded a $315 million contract for Griffin mini-missile production, improvement and support, a U.S. Department of Defense release said.

Additional funding will be obligated on a delivery/task order basis to the sole-source acquisition indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for AGM-176 Griffin missiles, the Friday, June 29 release said.

U.S. Special Operations Command is the contracting activity.

The release noted a request for information was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website on February 26, and only Raytheon provided a response. The intent to sole-source was posted from March 9.

Jane’s reported in February that the RFI was for a powered stand-off precision-guided munition to be carried by AC-130W Dragon Spear/Stinger II and AC-130J Ghostrider gunships, allied-operated Cessna AC-208 Combat Caravans, and other manned and unmanned aircraft. The RFI called for a 50 lb-class munition that is lethal against static and manoeuvring people and non-armored vehicles, more than hinting at the Griffin.

The AC-208, the attack variant of the Cessna C-208B Grand Caravan, is increasingly used in counter-insurgency operations around the world, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the intent to sole-source notice, Jane’s reported that SOCOM’s pre-solicitation covered the purchase of up to 800 Griffin missiles by 2021, with 640 more expected to be purchased in the same period. It also said a potential 1,440 missiles could be procured in 2022, for a total of 2,880.

In January, Raytheon was awarded a $105 million contract for Griffin missile production by the U.S. Air Force.

AGM-176 Griffin surface-to-surface missile
Patrol coastal ship USS Typhoon (PC-5) launches a AGM-176 Griffin surface-to-surface missile during an exercise in the Persian Gulf, March 20, 2014. Image: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Doug Harvey

Griffin: a light, flexible missile for land, sea and air

Raytheon’s AGM-176 Griffin mini-missile is 43 inches (109cm) long, and weighs 34 pounds (15.4kg) and comes in two variants, with two others in development. It uses GPS-aided inertial guidance and a semi-active laser seeker to deliver its relatively small 13-pound (5.9kg) warhead, which is intended to reduce collateral damage.

The missile’s estimated range – around 3.5 miles (5.6km) for ground launch, or 12.5 miles (20km) for air launch – is similar to the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, but its smaller size means three Griffins can be carried in place of one Hellfire, albeit with smaller warheads.

Harvest HAWK Griffin missile rack
Lance Cpl. Lorenzo P. Villarreal straps a rack that can contain up to 10 AGM-176 Griffin missiles onto the loading ramp of a KC-130J, July 22, 2011. The missile rack is part of the Harvest HAWK weapons system, turning a transport aircraft into an attack and air support platform. Image: US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki

Griffin A is an aft-eject munition that can be deployed from platforms like C-130 aircraft, including the KC-130 tanker, the AC-130 gunship and the MC-130 special mission aircraft, for which it was originally designed. It can be dropped from a 10-tube launcher from the rear cargo ramp, or from a door-mounted launcher, allowing the missile to be deployed while the aircraft’s cabin is pressurized.

The forward-firing Griffin B can be launched from rotary and fixed-wing manned and unmanned aircraft, including the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-8B Fire Scout drones, the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter, and the A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, as well as C-130 variants. It is also operational on U.S. Navy’s Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessels

The under-development Griffin C may be an attempt to compete with the Hellfire and MBDA’s Brimstone 2 missile. It adds a dual-mode semi-active laser and imaging infrared seeker, and a datalink that can redirect the missile to a new target in flight, making a fire-and-forget missile system. Griffin C-ER is, as the name suggests, and extended range variant.

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