The UK Royal Air Force¹s newly-acquired AGM-65G2 Maverick imaging infra red air-to-surface missile has passed another important milestone, Raytheon announced yesterday. A frontline Boeing/BAE Systems Harrier GR7, from the Boscombe Down-based Strike-Attack Operational Evaluation Unit, flown by a service pilot, scored a direct hit on a target at the Naval Air Weapon Station, China Lake, on 27 March. A successful firing had been made from a Harrier in June 2000, when a Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) test pilot scored two direct hits, but the March firing represented the first employment of the missile in its final, fully-integrated form, and from a frontline aircraft. The missile was fired against a target consisting of two shipping containers, from a range of 6.8nm (12.6km) and an altitude of 17,000ft (5,200m). The missile was fired at Mach 0.74. Maverick was bought by the RAF under an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) issued as a result of lessons learned during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, which underlined the RAF's lack of a low-level, stand-off PGM which would offer a low probability of collateral damage. The $59 million contract was signed in July 2000. Although Maverick has been in service since the Vietnam War, the weapon has been continuously upgraded and improved. The AGM-65G2 version used by RAF Harriers uses imaging infra red guidance, and delivers net explosive effect similar to a standard Paveway II 1,000lb LGB. It boasts the reliability which can only result from system maturity, however, and a combat record including 5,300 Mavericks launched in Desert Storm, and 800 in Allied Force.

Source: Flight Daily News