DUBAI: Raytheon Joint Standoff Weapon to Be Certificated for F‑35A

 In USA, Sea, Air, Threats, Turkey

The AGM-154 JSOW pre­ci­sion-strike glide bomb is to be cer­tifi­cat­ed for the inter­nal weapons bay of the US Air Force’s F‑35A Lighting II stealth fight­er by the end of November 2019.

The weapon’s man­u­fac­tur­er, Raytheon, says the approval would allow it to sell the stand­off weapon to inter­na­tion­al oper­a­tors of the F‑35A. The con­ven­tion­al take-off and land­ing F‑35A is the most pop­u­lar vari­ant of the type with inter­na­tion­al cus­tomers.

The US Navy has already qual­i­fied the JSOW on its F‑35C vari­ant and now the USAF is to use that test­ing data to inte­grate the weapon onto its air­craft, says Mark Borup, senior man­ag­er of busi­ness devel­op­ment for Raytheon Missile Systems’ air war­fare sys­tems.

“It is going to be ful­ly inte­grat­ed on the F‑35‑A and the impor­tance of that is that the USA has a num­ber of friends and allies who have the F‑35A,” he says. “It’s very sig­nif­i­cant. It’s a capa­bil­i­ty that many of our friends and allies real­ly, real­ly advo­cate for.”

The JSOW can be car­ried exter­nal­ly on the Boeing F‑15, Boeing F/A‑18E/F and Lockheed Martin F‑16. However, because of its 70nm (130km) glide range and its low radar-cross sec­tion, it could also be used by the F‑35 stealth fight­er on pen­e­trat­ing air strikes.

The glide bomb is GPS guid­ed and can fol­low a way­point path to its tar­get. The lat­est vari­ant of the weapon, the JSOW‑C Block III, can be guid­ed in its ter­mi­nal phase by an infrared seek­er and has a tan­dem war­head, among oth­er improve­ments.

The infrared seek­er allows the bomb to search the bat­tle­field for objects, such as build­ings, sur­face-to-air mis­sile bat­ter­ies or mil­i­tary trucks that match an image on file and auto­mat­i­cal­ly attack those tar­gets. The tan­dem war­heads can be pro­grammed to explode at dif­fer­ent times, for exam­ple, allow­ing the JSOW to pen­e­trate a hard­ened con­crete bunker with one explo­sion and then wip­ing out the tar­get inside with the sec­ond explo­sion.

Borup says six Middle East coun­tries are at var­i­ous stages of aquir­ing the JSOW‑C Block III. He declines to name the coun­tries.

“It is a sys­tem of very high inter­est in this region because it brings a whole new capa­bil­i­ty, a major upgrad­ing capa­bil­i­ty to their air­craft,” says Borup. “It gives them that pre­ci­sion with stand­off to stay out of har­m’s away with a lot of the threats that are being import­ed into the region.”

Borup declines to say what threats “are being import­ed into the region.” However, the Russian-made Almaz-Antey S‑400 Triumf anti-air­craft sys­tem, which has been pur­chased by Turkey and deployed by Moscow into Syria is par­tic­u­lar­ly trou­ble­some for local air forces because of the system’s long-range mis­siles and radar.

Raytheon says it is also see­ing inter­est from Middle East coun­tries in the JSOW’s abil­i­ty to glide into a tar­get at a shal­low angle.

“Just recent­ly one of the points of inter­est that we learned was a cave defeat capa­bil­i­ty is some­thing that’s need­ed,” says Borup. “If [the pilot] needs to get a 30⁰ dive angle to hit a ver­ti­cal tar­get, such as the front of a cave entrance, he can do that.”

Raytheon declines to say who Middle East nations are tar­get­ing inside caves.

Source: Flight Global

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