Raytheon Systems has been selected over a Honeywell/Lockheed Martin/ Rockwell Collins team to develop the US military's next-generation precision-approach landing aid.

The US Air Force awarded Raytheon an initial $5.8 million for risk-reduction efforts in support of the Joint Precision Approach Landing System (JPALS). Early work will include development of architecture requirements and JPALS testing. Key areas for risk reduction include guidance quality, vulnerability and transportability.

The JPALS is potentially a major programme as 15,000 US aircraft would need to be equipped. To be used by the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy and USAF, the beacon will be rapidly deployable by aircraft or large helicopters in adverse weather and terrain for low-visibility landings at fixed, tactical and shipboard landing sites. Key JPALS objectives include NATO interoperability with the international civil aviation community.

Working with the global positioning system (GPS), JPALS will replace several types of ageing Category 1/2/3 instrument landing systems. It is designed to be compatible with the US civil landing aid, the local area augmentation system (LAAS).

An analysis of alternatives concluded that military local differential GPS based on LAAS is the most cost-effective way to meet US military needs. Production is due to begin in 2004. The US Department of Defense envisions a 10-year transition to full JPALS implementation.

Source: Flight International