The US Navy (USN) awarded Raytheon a $235 million contract for 23 units of the company’s Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems (JPALS).

The fixed-price-incentive contract was anticipated for several months now. It will pay for launch of serial production, as well as installation of JPALS on the USN’s 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and eight amphibious assault ships.

F-35C landing

F-35C flight approach during sunset

Jeffrey M Sherman

The first units are expected to be delivered some time in 2020, Raytheon has said. The final deliveries are expected by 2023.

JPALS is a differential, GPS-based precision landing system that guides aircraft to a landing spot, typically on a carrier deck, though a land-based expeditionary unit is in development as well. The navigation equipment is integrated into the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and will be installed on the in-development Boeing MQ-25A Stingray unmanned in-flight refuelling vehicle. Other USN aircraft will continue to use the service's existing tactical air navigation system.

Raytheon is interested in adapting JPALS for other USN carrier-based aircraft, such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey and Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye.

The company is also pitching the system to foreign militaries. It has said that Italy plans to buy the system for one of its aircraft carriers and the UK Royal Navy is interested in buying two systems for its two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.