While fighter aircraft are being upgraded to extend their operational lifespan, longer lead times are required to field new weapon systems. Through phased upgrading and enhancement, yesterday’s air delivered ordnance becomes valid in the modern and future battlefield.
Addressing the 5th Sensor to Shooter summit, sponsored by Defense Update in April 08, US Navy Commander Matt Bohlin, responsible for development of Direct and Time Sensitive Strike at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), outlined some of the weapons development pursued by NAVAIR, in an effort to improve the service’s capability to attack time sensitive targets. Defense Update selected three types of weapons outlined by Bohlin – each addressing the obsolecense and modernization of current weapons in a different way. The HARM successor, designated AGM-88E introduces new sensors, communications and electronic systems while retaining the aerodynamic and kinematic envelope. A new missile designated JAGM – introduces a common weapon to replace seven different missiles currently in the inventory while the conversion of free-flight rockets into guided weapons, will introduce a new ‘price point’ for precision attack, utilizing lightweight, cost effective alternative to heavy and expensive guded missiles which could be deployed in large numbers on manned or unmanned platforms.