Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems has been awarded a $65 million Army contract to continue development of the nation's next-generation air-to-ground missile.
Raytheon is in a competition with Lockheed Martin to develop and produce the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), a potentially multi-billion-dollar program that would replace three existing missiles. The program was nearly canceled amid Pentagon budget-cutting but instead has been put on an extended development track.
Raytheon had expected the contract award from the Army Aviation Missile Command, after Lockheed Martin was awarded a similar contract worth $64 million in August.
Raytheon said that under the contract for "continued technology development," the company will develop and deliver a next-generation guidance section for the JAGM, with four months devoted to updating its design and a preliminary review, followed by two years for a critical design review, guidance section qualification and testing, and delivery of guidance sections.
The JAGM is planned as a replacement for the effective but aging Hellfire, Maverick and air-launched TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wireless-guided) weapon systems.
Raytheon, which has teamed up with Boeing Co. for its JAGM bid, said the tri-mode seeker technology it has proposed for the new missile is already being tested for the Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II), under development for the Air Force and Navy.
Raytheon's tri-mode seeker uses semiactive laser, uncooled imaging infrared and millimeter-wave radar guidance for all-weather operation.
Based on current schedules, Raytheon said, the SDB II tri-mode seeker will be in its second year of production by the time the latest JAGM development phase concludes.
Because JAGM's seeker head is very similar to the SDB II seeker head, the JAGM program can potentially take advantage of some of the qualification testing already accomplished with SDB II, reducing both risk and cost, Raytheon said.
Lockheed originally had proposed a tri-mode seeker with an actively cooled infrared sensor. In October, Lockheed said it had successfully tested a dual-mode JAGM seeker, without the infrared tracker, that would help keep program costs down.
With its uncooled infrared seeker, Raytheon's tri-mode design would give the military a key new capability at a cost comparable to current weapons, Tom Bussing, Raytheon vice president of advanced missile systems, said in a news release.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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