An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Stingers of Strike Fighter Squadron 113 conducts a mission over the Helmand River
Valley in southern Afghanistan in July. The Navy will participate in a demonstration this fall designed to guide a glide bomb
dropped from a strike fighter to a target with sensor information fed via data link from a radar surveillance aircraft.
used to turn conventional gravity bombs into the laser-guided bombs and the GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack
Munitions that are standard weapons for strike aircraft
over Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, the Dual-Mode Laser-Guided Bomb, equipped with laser and GPS guidance, was
introduced in combat, giving crews the flexibility of using
either mode as weather and target location change.
“We’re trying to get more precision through the
weather onto moving targets utilizing new technologies such as automatic target recognition and automatic target acquisition that give us that all-weather capability,” Burt said. “Another big area where we’re pushing hard is stand-off [outside area defense capability].”
While the precision weapons available today are performing well against land targets, the Navy is planning on
a new anti-surface warfare (ASUW) stand-off weapon to
replace the radar-guided R/AGM-84 Harpoon maritime
cruise missile that entered service more than three
decades ago. The service launched an analysis last month
to study the available technologies for a next-generation
weapon to help sustain U.S. maritime superiority.
“We need to shore up our [ASUW] capability,” Burt
said. “We also envision [it] would have some land-
attack capability as well.”
Capt. Mat Winter, the Navy’s precision-guided
weapons program manager, said the “clean-sheet”
approach to the new ASUW weapon is intended to field
a “cost-effective, survivable and warfighter-relevant
capability in the 2020-2040 time frame.”
He said that the analysis of alternatives could take
18-24 months, with subsequent program development
possibly starting with the 2014 budget and fielding of
the weapon as early as 2022. Air, surface and subma-
rine platforms will be considered as part of the analy-
sis of alternatives.