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