Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon weapons set for tussle in future competitions

US Navy plans to fund qualification of a laser seeker for Boeing’s Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kit promise to set up a three-way competition for future procurements between the weapon and dual-mode variants of the Paveway laser-guided bomb (LGB) produced by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Boeing has been developing Laser JDAM as a company-funded effort and expects a USN contract by June to qualify the dual-mode weapon, which uses a laser seeker to augment global positioning/inertial navigation system (GPS/INS) guidance. Two drop tests of the 225kg (500lb) weapon, against fixed and moving targets, were conducted last year.

Lockheed is under contract to develop a dual-mode version of the 225kg Paveway II to meet an urgent US Marine Corps requirement, with qualification scheduled by year-end and production to begin in 2007. The company has received an initial order for 2,000 guidance kits, plus four one-year options for up to 4,000 a year. Raytheon, meanwhile, is already producing the dual-mode Enhanced Paveway II for the UK Royal Air Force.

Paveway IIs will be returned to Lockheed to be fitted with a GPS/INS guidance section allowing three modes of operation: laser only, GPS/INS and dual mode, in which the bomb is guided towards the GPS target co-ordinates until the laser signal is acquired. This will allow the USMC’s Boeing AV-8B Harrier IIs and F/A-18 Hornets to carry two dual-mode weapons instead of the two JDAMs and two LGBs now carried, Lockheed says.

Laser JDAM replaces the bomb’s nose-mounted proximity fuze with a seeker that can be screwed into place in the field and which, rather than homing on laser energy, is used to update the stored target co-ordinates, allowing the weapon to continue on GPS/INS guidance if laser illumination is lost, Boeing says. Lockheed says dual-mode Paveway will not require any build-up in the field, and will track to the laser-designated target co-ordinates in the event that laser energy is lost after acquisition.


Source: Flight International