The first successful launch of an AGM-154B Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) with the PBXW-11 insensitive explosive occurred at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla, on Sept. 16. The JSOW was released from a range of 10 miles at 7,000 feet altitude and 420 knots in a straight and level attitude. The JSOW separated cleanly from the F-16, deployed its wings and flew for 73 seconds through its preplanned flight profile to its intended targets where it successfully dispensed its BLU-108 Sensor Fuzes Weapon payload. Capt. Bob Wirt, program manager for the Conventional Strike Weapons Program Office, PMA-201 stated, "This is a major milestone for safe Navy shipboard operations of our next generation tank killers. This is truly a joint weapon that can be employed from shore-based or deployed aircraft and retain its superior lethality."
Today's combined developmental and operational evaluation mission again demonstrated JSOW's end-to-end capability, but now with the insensitive PBXW-11 fill in the BLU-108 warheads. The PBXW-11 explosive replaced the standard Ocotol filled BLU-108 skeet submunitions. Both explosives have similar characteristics, but the PBXW-11 is safer for shipboard operations. JSOW is currently fielded on the Navy's F/A-18C/D, and will soon be fielded on the F/A-18E/F, F-15E, F-16C/D, B-1B, B-2A and B-52H.
JSOW is a joint weapon program being developed and produced by a combined Navy and Air Force team. The Navy JSOW Program Office out of PMA-201 here and the Air Armament Center Area Attack Program Office at Eglin are responsible for the management of the JSOW program.
Raytheon is the prime developer. Textron develops the submunition. The JSOW is one of the next generation, advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) all-weather, launch-and-leave weapons scheduled to replace a wide array of Navy and Air Force strike interdiction weapons over the next several years.
The JSOW provides a highly survivable, standoff capability against enemy stationary targets, armored moving columns and surface-to-air threats.
The JSOW can precisely attack targets more than 40 miles away from a high altitude launch. At low altitude, JSOW can be launched at ranges of 15 miles.
JSOW's standoff ability allows the pilot and aircraft to remain outside enemy point and area defenses. After release, the JSOW deploys its wings and glides to the target using the NAVSTAR GPS satellite array to refine positional information from its own internal inertial measurement unit.
The JSOW has three variants, all using a common airframe and navigational system, ensuring maximum flexibility and cost effectiveness for the warfighter.
The JSOW Baseline AGM-154A, now in full-rate production, carries a payload of 145 BLU-97 combined effect bomblets and has performed successfully for the U.S. Navy in Kosovo and Iraq. AGM-154B will start Multiservice Operational Evaluation in early 2000; Navy and Air Force test agencies will assess its operational effectiveness and suitability.
According to Wirt, "JSOW's track record of meeting or exceeding its requirements has been exceptional. We expect nothing less in our next round of testing."