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US 416th Flight Test Squadron tests Gray Wolf prototype cruise missile


The 416th Flight Test Squadron recently completed a round of tests of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s “Gray Wolf” prototype cruise missile at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

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US 416th Flight Test Squadron tests Gray Wolf Prototype Cruise Missile 925 001 An F-16 Fighting Falcon flown by Maj. Jacob Schonig from the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, conducts a mid-air refuelling operation with a KC-135 Stratotanker during a captive-carry flight test of a Gray Wolf cruise missile prototype, June 9. (Picture source: Air Force photo by Ethan Wagner)


Gray Wolf is a DoD-directed prototype production and demonstration of low-cost, subsonic and networked collaborative cruise missiles. The missiles are designed to launch in a swarm to target enemy integrated air defense threats.

The missiles offer a stand-off solution for the warfighter through its variable payload capability. Earlier this year, the Gray Wolf’s TDI-J85 engine completed a successful flight test campaign culminating in multiple inflight windmill starts and operation at high altitude.


US 416th Flight Test Squadron tests Gray Wolf Prototype Cruise Missile 925 002Members from the Gray Wolf test team and 416th Flight Test Squadron, pose for a photo following a captive-carry flight test of the Gray Wolf cruise missile prototype at Edwards Air Force Base, California, June 9. (Picture source: Air Force photo by Kyle Brazier)


The program has already reached certain test milestones: Electromagnetic Interference & Compatibility (EMIC) and a “captive carry” flight. A live release test at the Naval Air Station Point Mugu Sea Test Range is scheduled later this summer.

Most added that the importance of successfully conducting physical tests, as opposed to laboratory-simulated, provides the Gray Wolf team with invaluable critical data.

Conducting physical flight tests is critical to mission success, and the Gray Wolf test team faced challenges amidst COVID-19 restrictions as different portions of the test team were located throughout the country. Besides the test team at Edwards, the Gray Wolf tests included personnel from AFRL, Point Mugu, and others throughout the Air Force Test Center enterprise, namely at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.