Air Force performs round of flight tests with Gray Wolf cruise missile prototype

By Sara Sirota / July 15, 2020 at 1:16 PM

The Air Force has completed captive-carry flight tests of the Gray Wolf cruise missile prototype aboard an F-16 and intends to perform the first live release later this summer.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is executing the program as a proof of concept for low-cost, networked and collaborative cruise missiles that target adversaries' integrated defense systems. In the absence of continued funding, the service will cancel Gray Wolf once testing finishes but continue developing swarming munitions under the Golden Horde program.

Testers conducted the captive-carry flights at Edwards Air Force Base, CA in June, according to a notice the service released Tuesday.

"With just one captive-carry flight, the team learned more than in weeks or months of laboratory testing," Conor Most, an engineer with the 416th Flight Test Squadron, said. "Modeling and simulation go a long way to helping you predict how a new weapon will behave, but they will never replace actually putting the weapon on an aircraft and observing how it actually behaves in a real-world environment."

The upcoming live release test will occur at the Naval Air Station Point Mugu Sea Test Range, CA, the release states.

Although the Gray Wolf program is expected to end, Air Force spokeswoman Ilka Cole previously told Inside Defense there's interest in continuing with prime contractor Northrop Grumman's airframe and the first-of-its-kind TDI-J85 turbojet engine built by Kratos-owned Technical Directions.