After Iraq conflict success, USN wants to increase GPS-guided weapon's capability

The US Navy and Raytheon are studying a range of alternative applications for the AGM-154 Joint Stand-off Weapon (JSOW), including a directed energy payload, following the successful employment of the GPS-guided weapon during the recent Iraq conflict.

"As the result of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a number of new payload options are being considered to see if we can get more capability out of the weapon," says Capt Bob Wirt, US Navy JSOW programme manager. These include an electromagnetic pulse warhead that would be used to neutralise electronics; mines; acoustic sensors; leaflets and other non-lethal-type payloads, such as ration packs or batteries.

JSOW was designed as a "truck", but the only development of the basic JSOW so far flight tested has been a powered derivative intended for Australia. The JSOW comes in three variants: the -A with submunition, anti armour -B, and -C penetrator warhead. "It has a lot of payload capability, but much of this requires resizing and packaging, especially electronic type technology to fit into the weapon," says Steve Larson, Raytheon JSOW business development manager.

Meanwhile, the USN is hoping for $110 million of extra funding to restock its JSOW-A inventory after expending 300 missiles during the Iraq conflict. Although the AGM-154 is integrated on the US Air Force's Boeing B-52 and Northrop Grumman B-2 bombers, use of the weapon during the war was confined to USN and US Marine Corps Boeing F/A-18C Hornets. The USAF has just begun flight testing JSOW with the Rockwell B-1.

"The feedback we've had is extremely positive," says Wirt. The weapon demonstrated a stand-off range of 117km (63nm), in excess of the previously unclassified 75km.

Raytheon is studying a variable wing sweep modification to further extend range. JSOW-A's recent success contrasts with its first use during Operation Southern Watch in February 2001, when many missed their target due to inaccurate wind estimation software, which has now been addressed.

Operational evaluation of the BAE Systems Broach armed JSOW-C is to begin in September, with the USN seeking an initial operational capability by early 2005. The navy has modified an earlier JSOW-A low-rate initial production contract to include the first purchase of 42 JSOW-Cs, due for delivery in September 2004. The weapon, which is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker, has completed four of six free flight tests, and demonstrated 1.1m (3.6ft) accuracy.

Source: Flight International