Raytheon has detailed its receipt of a £60 million ($96.1 million) contract to replenish the UK's stocks of Paveway IV precision-guided bombs, following the type's successful use in Libya last year.
Now being used by the Royal Air Force's Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft in Afghanistan, the Paveway IV is a weapon in the 226kg (500lb)class. The design is also due to enter use with the UK's Eurofighter Typhoon force from 2013, the Ministry of Defence says.
Raytheon declines to detail the number of weapons contained within the new order, which was signed in December. However, Paveway IV programme chief engineer Terence Marsden says more than 1,000 have been used in combat since the type entered use in November 2008. "We're nearing 100% reliability," he says, adding that replenishment stocks are "in build right now".
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Meanwhile, Marsden also outlined Raytheon's continued internal investment in growth capabilities for the Paveway IV to meet part of the UK's Spear precision-guided weapons programme.
Sled tests of a penetrating warhead have recently been conducted with Qinetiq, while work is also under way on a new blast/fragmentation charge offering reduced collateral damage effects. Both will have the same mass and centre of gravity as the current weapon, removing the need for additional integration activity, Marsden said during a 3 April briefing at Raytheon's Harlow site in the UK. Longer term, the weapon could also gain a range extension kit and a data link.
The Paveway IV will also be carried by the UK's future Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. A first pit-drop test of the weapon from an F-35 was performed at Eglin AFB, Florida, in late March, Raytheon says. The weapon will be suitable for both internal and external carriage by the stealthy type.