Raytheon is studying an extended range (ER) version of the AGM-65 Maverick powered by a strap-on turbojet, as part of a wider ranging package of future enhancements.

Meanwhile, the US Air Force has taken delivery of the first improved electro-optically guided AGM-65H/K, while the US Navy is requesting information about restarting production of the laser-guided AGM-65E.

The proposed Maverick ER would offer a "significant increase in range" over the weapon's 25km (13nm) capability, says Ron Shields, Raytheon Maverick programme director.

Possible applications include replacing the Kongsberg AGM-119B Penguin Mk2 missile on the US Navy's Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter.

Raytheon is looking at a modular attachment incorporating a forward fuel cell that would partially mask the engine inlet. The powerplant is said to be a scaled-up 165mm (6.5in)-diameter development of the Hamilton Sundstrand TJ50, with sister company Pratt & Whitney providing technical assistance, including compressor technology.

Maverick ER would build on improvements in progress, including a lock-on-after-launch capability that adds GPS navigation and a datalink for man-in-the-loop target discrimination. The system is retrofittable to in-service Mavericks, and would be used with the AGM-65H/J/K's charge-coupled device (CCD) TV sensor or the -65F/G's imaging infrared (IIR) seeker for terminal guidance.

"We've done a quite a bit of testing, including the Affordable Moving Surface Target and Engagement trials and we're talking to the [USAF Fairchild] A-10 and [Lockheed Martin] F-16 communities," says Bob Carter, Raytheon business development manager.

The USAF is upgrading its inventory of older AGM-65A/B missiles with the new CCD head, which gives the AGM-65H/K a seeker with three times the range of the first- generation TV-sensor. Raytheon has also been given a licence to brief the UK, which is looking at the CCD sensor to complement its IIR-guided AGM-65G2s.

Raytheon also wants to offer for export an improved AGM-65E incorporating the Enhanced Paveway III bomb's laser seeker if production of the variant restarts.

Source: Flight International