Lockheed Martin has carried out two test flights of a developmental "Dual Mode Plus" configuration of the Paveway II laser-guided bomb, using a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Flight testing took place from China Lake in California with the US Naval Air Warfare Center’s Weapons Division, and used two Dual Mode Plus guidance kits integrated with unguided 226kg (500lb) Mk 82 warheads. The munitions were deployed against fixed targets, and operated “within operational performance requirements”, the company says.
The weapon system offers a new dual-mode guidance capability to the Paveway II Plus system by offering the current semi-active laser guidance with an added GPS/inertial navigation system, which Lockheed says provides an all-weather, moving target capability.
“This combination offers a precise and affordable direct attack weapon system to the US and its allies,” says Joe Serra, precision-guided systems director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
Flight testing assessed the weapon's linear optics, GPS/INS subsystem and its control actuation system, Lockheed says.
The Dual Mode Plus weapon is the company’s way of competing with Raytheon and Boeing’s laser-guided bomb offerings, Lockheed told FlightGlobal in March.
It could help Lockheed in its annual bid against Raytheon for the majority share of the US military’s Paveway II production – which is split on a 60/40% basis each year – and it could also tap into a market that Boeing’s laser joint direct attack munition has dominated since 2008.
Lockheed notes that the laser-guided weapon is effective against fixed and moving targets, and provides precision strike capabilities for the bomb in all-weather conditions at extended stand-off ranges.
Because it has the same form factor as the Paveway II, it can be easily integrated with aircraft that already use the weapon, or others that use similar direct attack weapons via conventional MIL-STD-1760/1553 or universal armament interfaces, Lockheed says.