The first contract for Saudi Arabia's acquisition of the Raytheon AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) was announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 6 June.
Awarded to Raytheon, the USD13.3 million contract covers the "development of the drawings and specifications for the [JSOW] Block III variant for the government of Saudi Arabia including qualification and validation," the DoD said.
The weapon is a 1,000 lb-class glide bomb with a range of up to 130 km when launched from high altitude. Designed for hardened targets, the AGM-154C uses a multi-stage warhead consisting of a large, 100 kg penetrating shaped-charge in front of a 145 kg conventional charge. This allows it to penetrate more than 1.5 m of reinforced concrete.
The contract announcement is the first confirmation that Saudi Arabia will get the network-enabled Block III variant (also known as the AGM-154C-1), which incorporates a new datalink that allows it to be retargeted after launch and new seeker modes so it can engage moving targets at sea.
Saudi Arabia's JSOW procurement programme seems to be making rapid progress. A US official announced in April 2013 that Washington had agreed to supply Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with "more advanced weaponry than we've sold before".
The munitions involved were identified in October 2013 when the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the proposed sale to Saudi Arabia of 973 AGM-154C. The notification also included the sale of 400 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles, 650 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missiles - Expanded Response (SLAM-ERs) and 1,000 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDB), but no contracts have been announced for these weapons.
The UAE's DSCA notification listed 1,200 AGM-154C JSOWs, 300 AGM-84H SLAM-ERs and 5,000 SDBs.