WASHINGTON: Raytheon’s Air Warfare Systems division in Tucson has a long history in successful missile development, from the venerable AMRAAM air-to-air missile that originally entered service in 1991 to today’s all-weather, lightweight StormBreaker, due to achieve initial operating capability before the end of the year. The latest in their air-to-air missile portfolio is the Peregrine, which Raytheon says will double the weapons carrying capacity of today’s fighters. Kim Ernzen is the vice president of the product line — and on Sept. 20 she updated Breaking D.
Breaking D: So, tell us a little about about your new medium-range missile, the Peregrine? (Unveiled on Sept. 16 at the Air Force Association conference, Peregrine is designed to be smaller, faster and more maneuverable than legacy airborne missiles.)
KE: “Peregrine will usher in a new era for Raytheon’s Air Dominance portfolio, complimenting AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder for air-to-air engagements. It leverages some of our most advanced engineering technology, and combines some of the best capabilities from both of these proven weapons.”
BD: Can you talk a bit about what new trends you are seeing in the market?
KE: “We are seeing the emergence of dual-use or new missions from some of our programs. That’s exciting from a cross-domain capability standpoint, but also for our government customers who are stretching budget dollars, and need new capabilities quickly.
“Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is a great example: the anti-ship missile is being integrated on the US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships, but recently interest is growing in the ground-launch capability. We worked with the US Army last summer for a successful firing from a ground-based truck to hit a moving target at sea. And we announced in May that the US Marine Corps will integrate it into its existing force structure. ”
(In its fiscal year 2020 budget request, the Navy asked for an additional $62 million to buy 38 more NSMs — to bring the Navy’s inventory to 64 by 2022 — for the Littoral Combat Ships.)
“The US Government also approved potential foreign military sales of NSM for use on the Sikorsky MH-60R helicopter. In the meantime, Raytheon is working closely with our partners at Norway’s Kongsberg – originator of the missile, to bring production of over 50 percent of NSM to the US.
The AIM-9X Sidewinder also demonstrated a ground-launch capability with a successful flight test from a NASAMS launcher earlier this summer.”
(Breaking D readers may remember that the NASAMS, the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile, is an air defense system developed by Norway that has been protecting the nation’s capital region since 2005. It normally uses a ground-launched variant of Raytheon’s AMRAAM AIM-120 antiaircraft missile, and is capable of knocking down cruise missiles.)
“Not only did that test show another dimension for Sidewinder, it opens the door to customers who want to buy a short-range layer to their ground-based air defense. NASAMS users now have three Raytheon effectors for ground-based defense: AMRAAM, AMRAAM-ER (Qatar became its first buyer this year) and AIM-9X.”
Breaking D: So, what about the lay of the land with air-launched weapons?
KE: “In the air-launched arena, we are advancing and modernizing our weapon systems to pace threats with cutting edge technology for fifth-generation fighters. Several Raytheon systems are also critical for keeping fourth-generation platforms relevant and in the fight.
Our international customer base for air-to-air systems like AMRAAM and AIM-9X continue to grow, and we had record production for both of those systems last year. AMRAAM is approaching 40 countries that use it, and to borrow a quote from one of my colleagues, there is ‘an AMRAAM at the ready in nearly every time zone on the planet.’
Over 21,000 AMRAAM have been produced in the past 30 years with greater than 4,500 live fires in test, training and combat. No other air-to-air will ever come close in production or performance.”
Breaking D: Let’s chat about the status of the StormBreaker. (The StormBreaker Small Diameter Bomb II GBU-53 glide bomb is replacing the Air Force’s old GBU-39 that entered service in 2005. While the GBU-39 used Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites as the guidance method, the StormBreaker when operational will use GPS plus a millimeter wave radar and a semi-active laser as a seeker package. It will be flown by the F-15E and eventually the F-35 fighters.)
KE: “The StormBreaker smart weapon, which is the Air Force’s newest weapon, wrapped up operational testing on the F-15E earlier this year, and is headed toward its Initial Operational Capability in the coming months. StormBreaker means that enemies can’t hide behind adverse weather, smoke or dust, anymore. Its tri-mode seeker is one-of-kind technology and gives pilots the ability to destroy moving targets from standoff ranges.”
Breaking D: Anything else you want to pass along to our readers?
KE: “In one more example of where international partnership means new capability – and the US saves the cost of development — is the Joint Strike Missile. We are teaming with Kongsberg to integrate the Joint Strike Missile on fourth and fifth generation fighter jets. JSM is specifically designed for the F-35’s Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare mission, and was based on the NSM design. It will take on high-value, heavily defended land targets.”
(The JSM is a long-range anti-ship missile that uses an imaging infrared seeker, already in the inventory of the Norwegians, Japanese and Australians.)