There is no question which bid for the US Army's joint air to ground missile (JAGM) contract is cooler.
Lockheed Martin is competing for the $6 billion order with a missile featuring a cooled infrared seeker. Its competitor, Raytheon, is offering an uncooled seeker.
The infrared seeker is just one of three sensors required to be embedded into the missile. A semi-active laser and a millimetre wave radar are also in the package. But the infrared sensor is getting the most attention since it represents the most obvious technical difference between the two proposals.
Raytheon has never argued that its uncooled seeker is more sophisticated than Lockheed's cooled IR seeker. Instead, Raytheon has argued that a cooled sensor is unnecessary. Each of the six initial aircraft to be equipped with JAGM already has a very capable cooled IR seeker already, so it simply doesn't need to use the camera inside the missile to identify targets at long range.
Lockheed has argued that Raytheon's strategy takes unnecessary risks on a battlefield where every long-range seeker is welcome. Alas, the cooled sensor was not able to help Lockheed during live-fire tests last year, when a series of unrelated component glitches led two misses in three attempts.
We'll find out which side of this argument wins. The US Army was planning to award the JAGM contract by the end of this month, but no one expects that to happen now until at least October and possibly November.