Attempts by the French and UK defence ministries to pull together a joint next-generation guided-bomb programme have faltered with the failure of the countries to agree a basic framework for the requirement.

France and the UK were exploring the joint release of a request for information (RFI) covering an improved-accuracy/extended-range guided bomb.

France, however, independently released its RFI for an advanced guided bomb at the end of May. Programme sources claim that officials were unable at that stage to resolve divergent requirements. They add that the UK may release an RFI by early 1998.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering two projects - initially it is looking for a bolt-on guidance and range-improvement kit for its 225kg and 500kg iron bombs. In the longer term, it wants an autonomous bomb with an increased range. The latter is closer to the French requirement.

Aerospatiale and Matra British Aerospace Dynamics have shown advanced bomb designs intended to address the French air force requirement. McDonnell Douglas (MDC) is also looking to offer elements of its Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) for the French and UK requirement.

Rick Heerdt, MDC's JDAM international programme manager, says that the company is looking to "-teaming with industrial partners in France and the UK". Matra BAe Dynamics is "a candidate" among several companies with which MDC has held talks.

For the UK's iron-bomb upgrade, Heerdt says that, rather than try to persuade the MoD to buy the JDAM "off-the shelf", it will offer elements of the JDAM guidance package in the shape of its combined inertial-navigation/global-positioning system.

In addition to France and the UK, Heerdt believes that there is an opportunity to sell the baseline JDAM to European Lockheed Martin F-16 operators.

Source: Flight International