The US Navy is firming up plans to procure a version of the Raytheon AGM-154 Joint Stand-off Weapon (JSOW) armed with the BAE Systems Broach penetrator warhead.

Pending successful testing, Broach will replace the BLU-111 227kg (500lb) blast fragmentation warhead planned for the AGM-154C, which is in engineering and manufacturing development. The USN and US Air Force are procuring the AGM-154A for use against soft targets and the AGM-154B for armoured targets, whereas the USN will use the AGM-154C against hard and deeply buried targets. Because of budgetary constraints, the USN last year slashed AGM-154C procurement from 7,800 to 3,000 weapons.

At issue was the affordability of Broach, which is twice the cost of the BLU-111. Capt Robert Wirt, conventional strike weapons programme manager, says: "We've addressed that issue with the Office of the Secretary of Defense [OSD], and we're comfortable where we're going with Broach."

Sources say the USN and OSD have agreed JSOW/ Broach integration and procurement, funding with money coming from another weapons programme. BAE has yet to be formally notified of the decision. It awaits a contract to deliver warheads to the USN for testing, since JSOW will be the first US application for Broach.

Last year, the Lockheed Martin Advanced Unitary Penetrator-3M was chosen over Broach for use in the hard-target Boeing Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missile.

At the time, UK chief of defence procurement Sir Robert Walmsley told Jacques Gansler, his US counterpart, that he was "disappointed", hoping "Broach will continue to be a strong candidate for JSOW". The planned use of the warhead now is viewed by some as an effort to placate London, but Wirt says: "From a requirements standpoint, it's very clear that we've got a target that needs Broach."

Source: Flight International