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Raytheon eyes wider role for weapons

Raytheon is looking at ways for its weapons to play a wider role on the network-enabled battlefield. "A missile can be a node on the network," says Louise Francesconi, president of Raytheon Missile Systems. "With advanced datalink communications it can give and receive information."

Developing ways to network weapons will allow Raytheon to expand its presence in the lucrative intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance market. In particular, the US company is keen to extend its missile experience into the unmanned air vehicle market.

"Weapons can provide a lot of information as they fly through the battlespace, acting as sensors for reconnaissance or battle-damage assessment, or communicating with other weapons. The question is how to use it," says Francesconi. "We are trying to understand customer requirements in a network-enabled architecture."

Known as a manufacturer of guided weapons, including the Tomahawk cruise missile, Raytheon is moving into unmanned systems with its miniature air-launched decoy (MALD) and SilentEyes micro-UAV. "In a netted environment MALD, Silent Eyes and Tactical Tomahawk can all be intelligence platforms," says Francesconi. "There is tremendous sensing and processing power on weapons. It's a question of what can you do with it?"

The US Air Force's MALD programme was a "strategic win" for Raytheon, says Francesconi, as it will provide a low-cost airframe for a future cruise-missile interceptor, loitering weapon or electronic-warfare platform. Other key programmes include adding an active seeker to the US Navy's long-serving Standard surface-to-air missile, and the NetFires joint venture with Lockheed Martin that is developing netted weapons for the US Army. A role on the Northrop Grumman team selected to develop the Kinetic Energy Interceptor for the US Missile Defence Agency was a "big long-term win".

GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC

 

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