Released: 31 Dec 1998
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- Two F-15Es from the 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., fired two upgraded AGM-130s during the weapon's first launches by operational aircrews here recently.
"The missiles performed flawlessly," said Frank Robbins, director of the Precision Strike Systems Program office here. "In addition, we were able to provide a level of training for these real-world aircrews that would not have otherwise been possible."
The new AGM-130, known as the mid-course guidance weapon, uses improved global positioning and inertial navigation systems. These upgrades allow the weapon to pursue targets with less involvement from the weapons systems officer in the aircraft.
"These new missiles have the ability to guide to the target with global positioning system steerage, freeing the hands and minds of the aircrew to concentrate on the tasks at hand in a high-enemy threat environment," Robbins said.
Capt. Hillary Graham, AGM-130 test manager, said weapon systems officers used to focus solely on the weapon while it flew to the target.
"They had to basically concentrate on the weapon during its entire time of flight," she said.
During the weapon's flight, which might last two minutes or more, Graham said the weapon systems officer could become distracted from defending the aircraft.
"(Now) you can pretty much forget about (the weapon) until about 40 seconds before impact," said Capt. Timothy Moser, an F-15E weapon systems officer from the 335th FS.
The recent launches also demonstrated the weapon to be user-friendly, Moser said. He only had six flights with the weapon before performing its first operational launch and scored a direct hit.
Capt. David Iverson, an F-15E pilot with the 335th FS said the improved AGM-130 also greatly reduces the chance of collateral damage.
Iverson said this reduction in collateral damage is valuable in conflicts with strict rules of engagement and gives the Air Force a greater ability to strike difficult targets without escalating a conflict into a full-scale war.
The recent launches proved to both the weapon's designers and operators that the MCG upgrade is a valuable addition to the Air Force inventory. (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)
* F-15 Eagle
* Air Force Materiel Command
* Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
* Global Positioning System
* Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.