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PARIS: Raytheon talks to UK over US Navy precision landing system for new carriers

Raytheon is in discussions with the UK government regarding the potential adoption of the US Navy's precision landing system onto the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, for use with the Royal Navy's Lockheed Martin F-35B.

The Joint Precision and Landing System (JPALS) is currently being tested at NAS Patuxent River, in Maryland, and has received $750 million in funding to date. The GPS-guided system is being developed to allow for the USN to land its F-35B/Cs on vessels, allowing the aircraft to land within 20cm (8in) of its target.

This could be rolled out to other F-35 operators that are planning to integrate their systems into ship operations, including the UK, which is acquiring the F-35B for operations at sea, with the second carrier being the most likely to initially adopt the system.

"We’re working with the UK government to see if we can add this to the second ship," Bob Delorge, vice-president of transportation and support services at Raytheon, told Flight Daily News. “The window of opportunity for this is probably a couple of years out for the UK.”

The first carrier is due to begin operating as of 2018, but could be retrofitted with the JPALS system should it be required, just as the USN’s ships are being modified to integrate the system.

Italy could also be a potential market for JPALS, as it is acquiring F-35Bs for its Cavour-class carrier.

Additionally, Raytheon is also pitching the system for land and vehicle-mounted applications.

"We’re looking at an expeditionary and land version of this," Delorge says. "We see a bigger market out there than just the F-35 and ship-based operations."

This could include integration onto a Humvee, guiding an aircraft to a forward operating base to provide close air support.

Meanwhile, Raytheon's Joint Miniature Munitions Bomb Rack Unit (JMM BRU) to be integrated onto the F-35, recently completed its critical design review. Development is still in the design phase, with the next step being to test that it can withstand “harsh naval environments”.

Each JMM BRU has positions for four weapons, and is designed to carry Raytheon’s Small Diameter Bomb II.

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