AIR-TO-GROUND WEAPONS



Naval Aviation possesses numerous types of air-to-ground weapons, all of which are designed for different targets, levels of accuracy, and lethality.

CLOSE-IN WEAPONS

Weapons such as the Mk-80 series General Purpose (GP) bomb family, Rockeye, Gator, and 2.75" and 5" rockets are close-in, direct-attack, unguided munitions. Close-in precision-guided munitions (PGMs), such as Laser-Guided Bombs (LGBs), AGM-65 Mavericks, and Hellfire II improve weapon lethality via increased accuracy.

Joint Direct Attack Munition

The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) currently under development is a multi-service effort to develop a strap-on, GPS-aided Inertial Navigation System (INS) guidance kit that will improve the accuracy of GP bombs in all weather conditions. JDAM also will allow a single aircraft to attack multiple targets from a single release point.

STAND-OFF WEAPONS

But Naval Aviation needs more than just close-in weapons. Point-defense surface-to-air missiles comprise approximately 85 percent of the weapons that make up enemy integrated air defense systems. Currently, Naval Aviation's capability to attack targets from beyond the range of these systems is limited to HARM, the Stand-off Land Attack Missile (SLAM), and the AGM-62 Walleye. These weapons acquire and home in on their targets using various techniques, including passive homing on radar and radio emitters (HARM) and electro-optics in the visible (Walleye) and infrared (SLAM) spectrums. However, they provide limited adverse weather capability and only carry a unitary warhead for attacks against point targets. HARM has shown great flexibility and continues to be upgraded; the Navy is currently developing Block V and VI modifications into the missile giving it the capability to attack GPS jammers and adding an INS/GPS suite. Walleye, developed in the 1960s, will be phased out of the inventory by 2005.

Joint Stand-off Weapon

A new family of Stand-off Outside Point Defense weapons will be introduced to the fleet beginning in FY 1998-1999, beginning with the Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW). JSOW is another multi-service program that will replace five types of the older air-to-ground weapons currently in the naval inventory. It will provide a family of precision-guided weapons that will allow naval aircraft to attack area as well as point targets at increased stand-off distances, greatly increasing aircraft survivability. JSOW will be usable in adverse weather conditions, and like JDAM, will give aircrews the ability to attack multiple targets in a single sortie.

SLAM/SLAM-ER Expanded Response (ER)

SLAM-ER is Naval Aviation's follow on to the SLAM Stand-off Outside Area Defense weapon. It is a day/night, adverse-weather, precision-strike weapon with over-the-horizon range. SLAM is based on the highly successful and reliable Harpoon anti-ship missile, with a GPS-aided INS system for mid-course guidance, and a Maverick Imaging Infrared sensor and a Walleye data link for precise, "man-in-the-loop" terminal guidance.

SLAM-ER is an evolutionary upgrade of SLAM, providing the Navy and Marine Corps with a major improvement in precision strike capability. A modified Tomahawk warhead improves lethality and penetration. New planar wings have been added, doubling the range and allowing terrain following flight. Mission planning time has been reduced to 30 minutes, and targeting has been improved via a "freeze frame" command that also reduces pilot workload. SLAM-ER has been approved for production and will be fielded in 1999.

SLAM-ER+ will also incorporate Advanced Terminal Guidance (ATG), making it an autonomous weapon, and enhancing the missile's capability against small targets and targets in urban environments. ATG uses a matching algorithm to recognize both the target and the surrounding scene, eliminating the need for a data link. SLAM-ER weapons fitted with ATG will be fielded in the 1999-2000 timeframe.
 

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