The US Navy says that despite of the US Air Force's rejection of the BAE Systems BROACH, the door is still open to fitting the multi-warhead penetrator to the Raytheon AGM-154C Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW), provided that the UK manufacturer can achieve a significant cost reduction.

Raytheon, meanwhile, is confident that the range of the powered JSOW it plans to propose to Australia can be extended to at least 220km (120nm).

BAE is focusing its efforts on offering a version of BROACH scaled for the JSOW, following Boeing's selection of the rival Lockheed Martin Advanced Unitary Penetrator for the AGM-86 Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM). The main stumbling block remains the relatively high cost of the multiple warhead.

"We continue to have a high level of interest in the blast fragmentation and penetrator warhead. We don't see the CALCM decision having an impact," says Capt Bob Wirt, US Navy conventional weapons programme manager. "We've challenged BAE to address the issue of affordability-they're going to have to buy their way on to this programme," he adds.

It is estimated that the price of the BROACH, including the cost of integration and qualification on JSOW, is twice that of the AGM-154C's planned BLU-111 unitary warhead. "BROACH is more expensive," acknowledges BAE, but it adds: "We're going to make every effort to meet what the navy wants and that includes price requirements."

The USN is expected to rule shortly on the release of a powered JSOW development to compete for Australia's Project Air 5418 requirement, which calls for proposals to be submitted by 18 January. Raytheon is planning a package of the extended range JSOW for littoral and area denial missions and AGM-88 Harm for anti-radiation roles.

The US company is resurrecting the Williams W-24-8 turbojet-powered JSOW, first demonstrated in 1995, but shelved after the USN selected the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 JASSM for the stand-off mission. Raytheon is in talks with Williams to update the powerplant. "We're comfortable we could get 120nm [270km]," says Chuck Ross, Raytheon strike product line vice-president, compared to the existing AGM-154 glide weapon's 65km range.

It is intended that the turbojet could be retrofittable to existing AGM-154s and, while there is no formal USN requirement, Wirt says it will "watch the programme very closely". The Australian version would also be equipped with a new infrared seeker, which the navy plans to start testing on the AGM-154C next year.

Source: Flight International