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  • Bombs Small And Large
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 11:00 PM on Aug 09, 2010

    Raytheon just pipped Boeing for a $451 million contract for the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II program, with its GBU-53/B design. It's a disappointment to Boeing, which had hoped to build on its success with the GBU-39/B SDB I, but a big feather in the cap of Raytheon and (in particular) Taylor Lawrence, the boss of Raytheon Missile Systems, who is interviewed in the latest DTI (page 60).

    SDB II will be quite challenging, involving the development and integration of a tri-mode seeker - imaging infrared, semi-active laser and millimeter-wave radar - in a small low-cost weapon. Advances in uncooled IR technology - much cheaper than a cooled system, which requires its own mechanical refrigeration unit - are important, as is an architecture that blends laser guidance with the IR system.

    SDB II was originally conceived as a moving-target attack weapon, and in future warfare scenarios would be used against tactical missile launchers and surface-to-air missile systems. The initial platforms will be the F-15E for the USAF and the F-35B and F-35C for the Marines and Navy.

    What SDB II may not be is a close air support weapon. The problem is the wing kit that gives the weapon standoff range: it also means that the SDB can't get to ground level fast enough to deal with rapidly changing tactical situations with troops in contact.

    For the Navy, the solution to this problem is the Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM), the subject of another competition, in which Raytheon and Boeing are teamed against Lockheed Martin, with a downselect to a single EMD contractor due early next year. (The competitors are 23 months into a 27-month technology demonstration program.) JAGM replaces air-launched TOW missiles, all versions of Hellfire and the Maverick, and will be integrated on the Super Hornet.

    JAGM could be a consolation price for Boeing, because the SDB II result may favor the Raytheon-Boeing team. This is because a key technology in JAGM is a low-cost tri-mode seeker and the technology in the Raytheon-Boeing contender is closely based on SDB II.

    Meanwhile, at the other end of the bomb scale, Boeing has been awarded a $20 million contract to deliver eight Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) "extended user evaluation assets" comprising warheads, tail kits (I think this is what is meant by "tool kits" in the DoD release) and aircraft adaptors.

    Tags: sdb, mop, raytheon, boeing

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