The F/A-18 Hornet community, both Navy and Marine Corps, continued to be stressed to the maximum by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The extra employment of older A through D Hornets is forcing some of those airframes to an early retirement. The services face a possible shortfall of 70 to 200 strike aircraft (depending on the source) in the coming decade as the F-35 Lightning II begins to become operational. Three options, or a combination of options, are being contemplated to address this: extend the life of the aging Hornets (which may or may not work as advertised), buy new Super Hornets (at the possible expense of the F-35 program), or seek to expedite initial deliveries of the F-35. At present the new aircraft's initial operation capability (IOC) is scheduled for 2012 for the Marine Corps' F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) version and 2014 for the Navy's F-35C aircraft carrier - capable model. Lightning II proponents are suggesting that introducing the F-35 earlier will more than make up for the fighter gap with the new aircraft's advanced capabilities in weapon performance and stealth.
With the current economic problems, the Pentagon acquisition process faces some daunting challenges. Under the George W. Bush administration, the United States increased its investment in defense to more than $500 billion per year, with hundreds of billions more being spent to support military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some analysts feel that this type of expansion cannot continue, given the government's deficit spending and the economy's downturn. The Navy and Marine Corps are already stretching their budgets to support the increasing cost of acquisitions, forcing difficult choices as they attempt to reach a balanced division of resources. The Navy's shipbuilding will be placed under pressure as more money is spent on aircraft to try and bridge the strike-fighter gap and introduce the P-8A Poseidon into the fleet.
- F/A-18 Hornet . As if to underline the age of its strike-fighter fleet, the Navy celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first flight of the F/A-18A on 18 November by painting a recently reworked Hornet in the original prototype's color scheme. The type was designed in the 1970s to replace the Navy's F-4 Phantom II and A-7 Corsair II and consolidate the roles of fighter and attack aircraft. On its anniversary day 636 Hornets were serving in active-duty, reserve, training, and research, development, test and evaluation squadrons in the Navy and Marine Corps. Seven other countries—Canada, Spain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Finland, Australia, and Switzerland—also fly the Hornet. The entire F/A-18 family of aircraft, including the Hornet, Super Hornet, and EA-18G Growler, passed the 7 million flight-hour milestone in July.
- F-35 Lightning II . Lockheed Martin's multi-service/multi-nation strike fighter, the F-35, continued its test program, with two versions in active flight test, another in structural testing, six airframes in final assembly, and 14 more in various stages of production at year's end. Three F-35 variants derived from a common design, developed together, and using the same logistics infrastructure worldwide, will initially replace at least 13 types of aircraft for 11 nations.
The Marine Corps' STOVL version, the F-35B, made its first flight on 11 June in the conventional mode. After a series of test flights that ended in September to verify the aircraft's performance, the prototype was sent through a 12-week modification program for systems evaluation and calibration plus software and hardware updates, including the installation of a Pratt & Whitney F135 engine certified for the full range of STOVL-mode and conventional flight. The test plan calls for transition to vertical-flight operations in mid-2009. The Navy carrier-capable F-35C was in final assembly at year's end and is expected to fly in 2009.
Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development—the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136. Pratt & Whitney's engine completed its first supersonic flight in November in an F-35 loaded with a full internal complement of inert weapons to simulate the engine's capability at speed while the aircraft was in a fully armed, stealth configuration.
By the end of 2009, all 19 F-35 test aircraft will be complete and flight test activities will intensify, leading to Initial Operational Test & Evaluation. Lockheed Martin will ramp-up production until reaching a peak rate of one F-35 per working day in the middle of the next decade.
Lockheed Martin's modified Boeing 737, the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATBird), began in-flight integration and verification of the F-35 mission systems suite in late 2008. The aircraft will test the integration of the avionics suite before the complete system begins flying in an F-35.
- EA-18G Growler . The Navy's next-generation electronic attack (EA) aircraft continued on an accelerated pace to replace the EA-6B. In June the aircraft was welcomed on board NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, in a dedication ceremony. The Prowler was introduced into service in 1971 as a four-seat modification of the A-6 Intruder, and the new Growler, based on the F/A-18F Super Hornet, will add an air-to-air capability to the suppression/destruction of enemy air defenses missions of the EA community. In addition, the new airframes will offer superior reliability and maintainability and expanded capabilities over the Prowler. The Growler combines the capability of the Super Hornet with the latest airborne electronic attack avionics suite evolved from the EA-6B's ICAP III system. VAQ-129 at Whidbey will be responsible for training Growler flight crews and ground maintenance personnel.
As work to introduce the Growler was being done at Whidbey, testing continued on the airframe and electronic components. An EA-18G made the first AIM-120 AMRAAM live firing at the Naval Air Weapons Center (NAWC) China Lake, California, in July. This event also marked the first release of any ordnance from the type. While jamming threat emitters located at Echo range, the Growler engaged and fired on a BQM-74E target drone and the close pass of the inert warhead missile was scored as a hit by range observers. Growlers also participated in sea trials in July and August on board USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). VX-23 from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, made 319 approaches, 62 catapult shots, and 62 arrested landings using one Growler and one F/A-18 aerodynamically configured to replicate a Growler. In early August a test of the AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) was conducted at China Lake
Following the successful completion of Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL), the Growler is scheduled for full-rate production and delivery to VAQ-129 in the spring of 2009. IOC with VAQ-132 is scheduled for the fall of 2009, with a complete Navy transition of 88 Growlers by 2013. The Marine Corps will continue to fly the Prowler until at least 2019.
The first operational squadron to receive the EA-18G, the Scorpions of VAQ-132, held a final-flight ceremony for the EA-6B Prowler at NAS Whidbey Island on 7 November. The Scorpions were the first operational squadron to transition to the EA-6B in January 1971, the first Prowler squadron to see action in Vietnam, and the first to give support for Operation Desert Storm in Iraq and Operation Deny Flight in Bosnia-Herzegovina. With the expected receipt date of their first Growler in August 2009, the Scorpions began qualifying maintenance personnel to ensure a smooth transition.
- E-2D Advanced Hawkeye . Northrop Grumman Corporation's E-2D completed Operational Assessment in November. A team comprised of Fleet-experienced aviators from VX-1 at NAS Patuxent River, and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School at NAS Fallon, Nevada, conducted ten flights over a period of four weeks. The test team implemented real-world flight events comparable to the missions the E-2D will perform when the aircraft is in operational service.
An E-2C Hawkeye equipped with glass cockpit and navigation upgrades began flight testing at NAS Patuxent River on 13 August as part of the Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system evaluation. Flight testing on the Hawkeye follows the conclusion of a ten-month flight assessment of the same system on a C-2 Greyhound. Because of rapid air traffic growth worldwide, the international aviation community and the Federal Aviation Administration have mandated a system to make use of assigned airspace more efficient while increasing safety. CNS/ATM includes satellite-based technology to control and manage air traffic in U.S. civilian airspace and abroad.
The system features the ability to use more radio frequencies and a global positioning system coupled with an inertial navigation system to allow precise landing approaches. Both the E-2 and C-2 test aircraft's cockpit displays were upgraded from analog to digital with two liquid crystal displays installed along with enhanced computer processors. The CNS/ATM-equipped Hawkeye underwent shore-based testing in preparation for carrier qualifications in the spring of 2009. Completion of CNS/ATM testing and subsequent certification by NAVAIR for the Hawkeye is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2009. Delivery of CNS/ATM modified Greyhounds is scheduled for winter of 2009.
- P-8A Poseidon . Boeing Integrated Defense Systems and Boeing Commercial Airplanes completed the final assembly of the first P-8A in early August and began preparations for the aircraft's flight test program. Boeing is building the aircraft, a military derivative of the 737-800, on a third final-assembly production line in Renton, Washington, taking advantage of Next-Generation 737 manufacturing processes already in place. The company then focused on calibrating the flight-test instrumentation on board the aircraft before its move to Boeing Field in Seattle in 2009 for systems integration and additional testing. The second P-8A Poseidon began assembly on 24 July in Renton. The aircraft, S1, is the program's static test vehicle used to test the airframe's structural strength. It is one of five P-8A test aircraft—three flight-test and two ground-test—that Boeing is building for the Navy as part of a System Development and Demonstration contract. The Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8As with an IOC of 2013 to replace its fleet of P-3C aircraft for antisubmarine warfare, antisurface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.
- EPX . The Navy awarded three industry teams contracts to develop the system concept for the Navy's EPX - the future manned signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform to replace the current EP-3 Aries. The EPX will be a manned multi-mission, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting platform. It will support carrier strike groups at sea and in-theater, combatant and national commanders while operating from shore-based forward-operating locations in concert with other maritime patrol and reconnaissance platforms, such as the unmanned Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) aircraft and the P-8A Poseidon.
The Boeing Company, partnering with ARGON ST and Raytheon, leads one team receiving the contracts. Boeing is the Poseidon's prime contractor. Another team is led by Northrop Grumman joined by L3 Communications, which has modified current EP-3s. A third contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin, the original manufacturer of the P-3. The new aircraft will fill the gap left by the Joint Army/Navy Aerial Common Sensor program, which was cancelled in 2006. The Navy is expected to select one contractor for the EPX system development and demonstration phase in late 2011 or early 2012.
- P-3C Orion . The Navy grounded 39 P-3C aircraft, approximately a quarter of the fleet, in December 2007 for structural fatigue concerns. One additional aircraft was grounded in March 2008. The groundings were not a result of an aircraft incident, but because of ongoing analysis. After the initial grounding, three of the affected aircraft were retired from service.
The Navy began returning its grounded P-3C Orion aircraft to flight status in 2008 as ten of the aircraft began outer wing modifications. The first was completed in the fall, less than a year after the grounding orders. Additionally, the Navy awarded contracts to L-3 Communications on 19 August and to Lockheed Martin on 26 August for the production of 17 P-3C outer wing assembly kits with delivery scheduled to begin in early 2010. The Navy is tracking the P-3's fatigue status, flight-hour usage, and operational profiles by using sensors on board operational aircraft to reduce the likelihood of additional groundings.
With the possibility of future P-3C groundings, the Navy has considered providing the training and support necessary to achieve a ready-to-deploy P-8A squadron nine months ahead of schedule. An early delivery would not affect production of the aircraft and IOC would remain FY 2013. The P-3C Orion will remain in service until the P-8A Poseidon is fully operational in FY 2019.
- EP-3E Aries II . L-3 Communications delivered in December the first of eight EP-3Es configured with new multiple-intelligence (multi-INT) capabilities. System integration, installation, and testing on the reconfigured aircraft was performed in less than three months. The "surge configuration" adds substantial multi-INT subsystem capabilities to the EP-3E, which performs intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions in support of maritime and ground forces.
- S-3B Viking . In the last tactical deployment of a sea control squadron, VS-22 returned to NAS Jacksonville, Florida, on 15 December after completing a five-month detachment to Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The deployment was in a very dangerous land-based environment, substantially different to the conditions normally encountered on an aircraft carrier. The squadron deployed four S-3B Vikings, each equipped with the latest LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared for Night) navigation pod, that enables pilots to maneuver and perform enhanced surveillance at low altitudes. The squadron flew about 80 percent of its non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance combat missions at night. The Viking's LANTIRN infrared capability was invaluable as it took away the cover of darkness and routinely detected heat signatures of vehicles, shelters, people, and improvised explosive devices and relayed the information to convoys and combat teams. Deactivated in January 2009, VS-22 was the Navy's last S-3B Viking squadron.
- C-40A Clipper . The Navy Reserve will buy two more C-40A Clippers, the Navy version of Boeing's 737-700 commercial airliner. The new Clippers are expected to be delivered in the first and second quarter of Fiscal Year 2011. They will join the nine already in operation at Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas; NAS Jacksonville; and NAS North Island, California. Six more C-40As will be ordered.
- UC-12 Huron . Hawker Beechcraft Corporation won the Marine Corps UC-12 Replacement Aircraft contract to supply the Corps with six aircraft to replace their aging UC-12 Huron twin-engine utility aircraft. The new aircraft, based on the civilian King Air 350, is a state-of-the-art twin turboprop commercial aircraft and is expected to begin reaching the fleet in Fiscal Year 2010.
The Marine Corps is well on the way to replacing the aging H-46 fleet with the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey. The first three squadrons—VMM-263, VMM-162, and VMM-266—stood up between 2006 and 2007, and the fourth, VMM-261, began its transition in 2008. VMM-263 completed the first MV-22 operational deployment in May 2008 and successive deployments included VMM-163 as the next to deploy to be relieved by VMM-266 in September. The Osprey is scheduled to be fielded on the West Coast at MCAS Miramar in 2010.
Rotary Wing Aircraft
- MH-60R Seahawk . As the Navy's next generation multi-mission helicopter, the MH-60R is the cornerstone of the Navy's antisubmarine and antisurface warfare effort, replacing the SH-60B and SH-60F. Secondary missions include search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and communication relay. The MH-60R completed its first at-sea operations on 25 January 2008, while underway in the guided-missile destroyer, USS Preble (DDG-88). Operating as a detachment from HSM-71, the single MH-60R completed basic training, familiarization, and qualification missions, as well as shipboard integration flights. Other training missions included vertical replenishment and in-flight refueling to help the Preble achieve her aviation certification. The squadron received its final aircraft delivery in July and deployed on board the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) as part of Carrier Air Wing Nine in early January 2009 for the MH-60R's first deployment.
- UH-1Y Huey . The Marine Corps' newest utility helicopters, the UH-1Y, achieved IOC on 8 August. After more than one year of training at HMLAT-303, three of the helicopters with six pilots and six crew chiefs reported to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked in the USS Boxer (LHD-4) for the helo's first deployment. The new Huey features greater operational flexibility because of 50 percent increased range, faster maximum speed, a stronger airframe design, advanced electronic warfare self protection, and 125 percent greater payload than the previous UH-1N. Part of the H-1 Upgrades Program, the UH-1Y replaces the UH-1N while the AH-1Z replaces the AH-1W. The total buy of UH-1Y helos is 123. Delivery is expected to be complete by the end of Fiscal Year 2016.
- VH-71 Kestrel . The first production VH-71 presidential helicopter joined the test program at NAS Patuxent River in late 2008 after an October delivery from the AgustaWestland facility in Yeovil, England, by a U.S. Air Force C-17. The helicopter underwent two months of ground vibration testing in Maryland before flying to prime contractor Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, New York, for installation of the mission systems, communications suite, and presidential interior and exterior livery. It was the fifth VH-71 helicopter to join the program, and the first of five pilot production aircraft to begin testing. These pilot production aircraft will be delivered to HMX-1 after completion of a comprehensive test program for operational use as "Marine One" helicopters for the President.
- H-72 Lakota . NAVAIR is teaming with the U.S. Army to buy five new H-72 helicopters for the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River. The Lakota, the military version of the commercial Eurocopter EC-145, will replace the Vietnam-era TH-6B Cayuse in use since the early 1990s, the youngest of which was built in 1968. The new helicopters should be delivered sometime in 2009.
- CH-53K Super Stallion . The Marine Corps' heavy lift CH-53K program made progress as Sikorsky continued to select contractors for the helo's subsystems. General Electric began work on the GE38-1B engine as the test engine's first chips were cut. Since contract award, the GE38 Engine Team, including members from GE, Sikorsky, and Naval Air Systems Command have been designing parts and preparing to manufacture five ground test engines and 20 flight test engines. The GE38-1B engine architecture, while similar to the T700 engine, is based on the GE27 technology demonstrator, the CFE738 commercial turbofan, and the T407 turboprop engines. The CH-53K is in Systems Development and Demonstration with a program of record calling for 156 aircraft.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
In 2007, all Navy and Marine Corps unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) efforts were located in one program office at the Naval Air System Command. In 2008, because of program expansions, the number rose to four. In response to the Navy's and Marine Corps' growing interest in unmanned aviation, the Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons program executive office split one of the program management activities (PMA) into three separate acquisition programs and created a fourth. Two of the integrated programs of PMA-263 were separated into their own acquisition programs in October. Both Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems program (PMA-262) and Navy and Marine Corps Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Air Systems program (PMA-266) were created on 14 November.
The Department of the Navy announced on 22 April that the Northrop Grumman Corp. was awarded the System Development and Demonstration contract for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS). The contract is to develop a persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data collection and dissemination unmanned aircraft based on the company's RQ-4N. The BAMS UAS will be an integral part of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force, as an adjunct to the P-8A.
- X-47B UCAS . Northrop Grumman Corporation is on track for the first flight of its Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator for the Navy's UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The first of two X-47B carrier demonstration system air vehicles were ahead of schedule at year's end in preparation for a first flight in November 2009, just over 24 months after initial contract award. The X-47B UCAS-D will be the first-ever unmanned tailless jet to land on a carrier. The flight test program will include shipboard catapult launch and arrested landings, autonomous carrier control area operations and movement of the X-47B on the flight deck. First sea trials and carrier landings are planned for November 2011.
- MQ-8B Fire Scout . Northrop Grumman's MQ-8B Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) demonstrated maturity as it moved into the second year of low-rate initial production with a contract award in September.
Northrop Grumman demonstrated in September the radar capability on its company-owned Fire Scout Vertical Unmanned Air System (VUAS). The flight demonstrated Fire Scout's ability to search for, detect, and track multiple targets. This was part of an on-going effort to expand VUAS capabilities. In December, the company demonstrated continuous combined payload coverage on its vehicle. The Fire Scout downlinked simultaneous digital video from both a multi-mode maritime radar and an electro-optical/infrared sensor using a tactical common data link.
- RQ-4A Global Hawk . A U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command RQ-4A from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale AFB, California, made a transatlantic flight 20 September with the assistance of the Navy. The 19-hour flight from Patuxent River to Southwest Asia with Air Force and Navy officials working together is just the beginning of an increased relationship between the two services. The transatlantic mission is also a move toward the chiefs of staff's initiative to increase Joint UAS capacity.
In what could prove to be the first step to creating a Joint RQ-4 UAS training unit at Beale AFB, pilots of the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron taught a class of naval aviators the Global Hawk system. The November class, consisting of three active-duty P-3 Orion pilots and one civilian contractor, was the result of the Secretary of Defense's call to maximize the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability of the services. Navy officials are looking to the Air Force to assist in expediting their pending RQ-4 Global Hawk deployment. The Navy, which currently doesn't have a Global Hawk training program, will use the training at Beale to install their own Global Hawk presence in the Central Command area of operations in 2009. In addition to providing pilot training for the Navy's Global Hawk deployment, Beale's Airmen will support their maritime Global Hawk mission until naval personnel are fully trained to take over in 2009. The RQ-4, the Navy's choice for the service's unmanned aircraft system, is slated for testing in Southwest Asia with their new BAS system. The Navy's two contractor-operated Global Hawk Maritime Demonstrators are currently flown from NAS Patuxent River.
- Scan Eagle . The Naval Unmanned Systems Integration Activity (NUSIA) teamed with China Lake's NAWCWD Unmanned Systems Technical Project Office and conducted an initial flight of the first Navy-owned unmanned Scan Eagle test vehicle on 29 February at China Lake. The Insitu Scan Eagle will be used at China Lake as well as other designated facilities as a testbed for concept of operations development and UAS integration efforts.
Since 2004, Scan Eagle has logged more than 50,000 hours in-theater providing real-time imagery to tactical commanders and acting as forward observers to monitor enemy vehicle and personnel movement, along with buildings and terrain in Iraq. Weighing about 40 pounds, Scan Eagle is four-feet long and has a wingspan just over ten feet. It can fly up to 16,000 feet at a cruising speed of 60 mph. It is launched by a pneumatic wedge catapult, flies pre-programmed missions via a GPS-based navigation system, and is retrieved using a skyhook system by catching a rope hanging from a 50-foot pole. Scan Eagle is part of an inventory of Dakota and Pioneer UASs at China Lake. The team expects to get four more Scan Eagles as well as Shadow and Raven systems.
Work continues on several revolutionary systems to be installed on board the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), lead ship in the Navy's next aircraft carrier class. General Atomics reached a milestone in April 2008 on the Electromagnetic Launch System (EMALS) program with the completion of factory acceptance testing of the motor generator component of the Energy Storage System (ESS). The 80,000-lb motor generator met all requirements for delivering high-pulsed energy and power by demonstrating the capability to output the energy equivalent of 30 sticks of dynamite. The ESS is a super-high energy density pulse-power system that provides the energy storage for a new electromagnetic launch system. Four additional ESS systems will be built to support development testing at the Naval Aviation Engineering Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, culminating in aircraft launches at the test site in 2009. The first components of the EMALS equipment are scheduled to be delivered in 2011 for installation in the Ford , scheduled for commissioning in 2015.
Northrop Grumman Corporation's Shipbuilding division at Newport News, Virginia, was the site of two August milestones in the lives of two aircraft carriers. On 11 August, the crew of USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) began moving aboard and was served the first meal in the nation's newest Nimitz -class carrier. The event continued the progression to the ship's January 2009 commissioning. One week later, on 18 August, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) celebrated the first meal served on board in nearly three years since she arrived in Newport News for refueling and complex overhaul. The Vinson will return to Fleet service in 2009.
- AIM-120D . An AIM-120D Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) fired from a VX-31 Super Hornet destroyed a QF-4 target drone in a 13 February test. The D-version is in the system design and development phase and builds on the basic AMRAAM by adding an enhanced electronic protection suite, two-way data link, and GPS-aided navigation.
- DMLGB . Lockheed Martin's Paveway II Dual-Mode Laser-Guided Bomb (DMLGB) achieved initial operational capability in 2008 and prepared for operational employment in 2009. The bomb gives the Navy F/A-18 Hornet and the Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier the capability to employ a precision weapon in either laser-guided or inertial/GPS-guided mode for all-weather precision strike missions against stationary and mobile targets. The bombs can operate in laser only, inertial/GPS, or dual-mode to provide flexibility in engaging differing targets in a single mission. The DMLGB is a retrofit of an existing laser-guided bomb kit, upgrading the existing computer control group with an INS/GPS module.
- LJDAM . Naval Air Systems Command delivered a smarter bomb to the Fleet in November in the form of the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (LJDAM). This weapon provides F/A-18A+, C, and D Hornets; F/A-18E/F Super Hornets; and AV-8B Harriers with a laser-guidance mode for fixed and fast-moving land targets. Laser-guidance enhances the weapon's existing smart-bomb targeting capabilities in Global Positioning System and Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS). The Air Force and Navy developed the LJDAM to satisfy an operational requirement for engagement of fast-moving land targets with the addition of a laser-seeker combined with the GPS/INS capability of a JDAM. This provides the capability of engaging both fixed and fast-moving land targets with one weapon. The laser guidance kit also provides an additional mode of targeting for a situation where GPS/INS capability may be denied. LJDAM is comprised of a laser sensor kit installed on the nose of a standard JDAM, which in turn is made up of a standard 500-lb general-purpose bomb body with a guidance tail-kit, making it a smart weapon by enabling it to find its target with GPS, inertial navigation system, and controllable fins.
- CMS . The Boeing Company was awarded a contract in August to design and develop the Countermine System (CMS) for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City, Florida. The CMS, part of the Navy's effort to field a comprehensive Assault Breaching System, is designed to minimize mine-related losses during amphibious landings by neutralizing mines in the beach and surf zone in advance of a Marine amphibious assault. The CMS warhead uses the JDAM guidance set to position the weapon above the mines where the warhead dispenses more than 4,000 neutralizer "darts" at a predetermined altitude, clearing the way for safe beach landings. Air Force strategic bombers will use the CMS to clear assault lanes while Navy tactical fighters will perform localized mine neutralization. The technology, developed in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research's Mine Obstacle Defeat System program, has allowed the Navy to proceed with the CMS System Design and Development phase with plans to field the system in 2016.
- AGM-88E . The Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) AGM-88E was approved for low-rate production as the Navy's latest weapon in the destruction of enemy air defenses. The AARGM, produced by Alliant Techsystems, is an upgrade to the AGM-88B High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), currently in the fleet. AARGM is a stand-off, air-to-ground weapon upgrading the existing HARM with a new guidance section and a modified control section that enhances overland and maritime strike capability for targeting enemy air defenses while minimizing collateral damage. The next big step for AARGM is Operational Evaluation scheduled to begin in 2009. Following successful evaluation and a favorable full-rate production decision, AARGM is expected to be delivered in 2010.
- JAGM . To shrink the number of air-to-ground missile types in use by the military, the Army awarded contracts in September 2008 to Lockheed Martin and the Raytheon-Boeing team to develop the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM). The 27-month development program will result in a final selection by the end of 2010. The new weapon is designed to replace seven versions of the currently fielded TOW, Hellfire, and Maverick missiles currently used by both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft in all four services. While JAGM has yet to become a formal program of record, the need for such a weapon is clear and most of the technologies are mature, with roots to the Joint Common Missile, cancelled by the Army few years back. Unlike the current weapons it will replace that are optimized for specific environmental and target conditions, JAGM will be equipped with a tri-modal seeker (laser homing, thermal, and millimeter-wave radar). The missile has a multi-purpose warhead that packs a shaped-charge to defeat the most advanced armored threats and a blast fragmentation capability to defeat ships, buildings, bunkers, and other soft targets by penetrating them with a precursor warhead and then detonating a time-delayed main warhead from within. Another advantage over current weapons will be advanced countermeasures against active protection systems. The missile also will retain flexible targeting methods, including autonomous target acquisition, lock-on-before-launch and lock-on-after-launch capability. The JAGM will carry an integral internet protocol - based data radio, providing access to targeting information during flight.
- JSOW . The Navy and the Raytheon Company completed a critical design review of the Joint Standoff Weapon C-1 in October. JSOW C-1 adds moving maritime target capability plus a two-way data link and will be the Fleet's first network-enabled weapon when delivered in 2010. Raytheon remains on track to begin captive carry testing of the JSOW C-1 from a Super Hornet in 2009 and is in contract negotiations for the first production lot of missiles.
- Spike . The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake continued demonstrations of Spike, the world's smallest guided missile at 25-inches long, 2.25-inch diameter, and 5.3 pounds. The division simulated a Spike being fired from a UAV in a successful test launching from the top of a small mountain on the China Lake range. The target on the valley floor nearly a mile-and-a-half away was a remote-controlled truck traveling at about a 20 mph crossing velocity. Spike is the only missile with an electro-optical imaging strapped-down seeker and its cost goal of $5,000 per unit would make it the world's lowest-cost guided missile.