Lockheed: RIG-360 demos potential for GMLRS to strike enemy ships, mobile missile launchers

By Jason Sherman  / October 19, 2023

The Army may soon have the option to expand the striking power of its premier surface-to-surface artillery rocket by adding a new communications device that could allow Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions to hit not only pre-programmed stationary locations, as they can today, but also moving targets such as ships or mobile missile launchers.

On Oct. 11 at White Sands Missile Range, NM, Lockheed Martin conducted a proof-of-concept of the Remote Interceptor Guidance-360 (RIG-360) with a surrogate missile that demonstrated the linkages necessary for adding this ship-sinking and mobile missile launcher attack capability, according to a company executive.

“This proof-of-concept aims to enable Army deep-strike capabilities with offensive fires against moving targets in contested environments, a critical capability to drive agility within the Army’s connected network and keep our customers ahead of evolving threats,” Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control’s vice president of integrated air and missile defense, said in a statement.

“In this test, we had [a] communication prototype that would ultimately go into a GMLRS rocket, but in this case, it was on an aircraft,” Arnold told Inside Defense in a brief Oct. 16 interview.

The RIG-360 -- developed independently by Lockheed Martin -- is a software-defined, X-band missile communications device that provides full hemispherical, 360-degree in-flight communications. It includes a ground-based antenna that links with an antenna that, in the case of GMLRS, would fit around the outside of the rocket -- and then relay guidance data to a small radio which feeds information to the onboard mission computer for navigation.

“We demonstrated the ability for the RIG-360 based uplink or to communicate with that device on the aircraft. The next step will be to actually integrate it into a GMLRS rocket and then return to White Sands Missile Range and demonstrate the ability for the RIG-360s to communicate and provide updated target locations to the GMLRS rocket and live fire flight test event.”

A test with the munition is scheduled for 2024, according to the company.

Last November, the Army shot down a cruise missile in a demonstration of RIG-360 technology in a defensive capacity, when the communication device was embedded in a Patriot guided missile interceptor and received in-flight updates about the target from Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) -- not the Patriot system’s organic radar.

Lockheed believes RIG-360 could help the Army move toward its emerging vision of integrating offensive and defensive fires. The company, Arnold said, has developed an interface between IBCS, a defensive system, and the Advanced Filed Artillery Tactical Data System used to coordinate offensive fires.