Raytheon Missile Systems has been contracted by the US Navy to embody a new maritime targeting software load into the Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile to support a flight test and subsequent fleet release.
Awarded on 25 January, the USD627,000 contract introduces a Maritime Targeting Capability (MTC), also known as ‘Synthetic Guidance’, into the Block IV missile as the first increment of a two-phase Maritime Strike Tomahawk (MST) programme. According to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the MTC update will enable the Tomahawk Block IV missile to receive in-flight target updates to provide mid-course guidance to the missile so enabling it to engage a moving target at sea.
Under the award, Raytheon will perform Operational Embedded Software (OES) development needed to support a fiscal year (FY) 2018 MTC flight test. According to NAVAIR, the task will “include delivery of an OES build suitable for use in flight test and subsequent fleet release, along with the associated documentation and simulation tools”.
The development of a ‘Synthetic Guidance’ mode, leveraging the existing Tomahawk Strike Network communications infrastructure, began as a NAVAIR-led effort to identify what level of moving target capability could be introduced to the Tomahawk missile in the near term. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake worked with NAVAIR’s Tomahawk Weapons System Program Office (PMA-280) and Raytheon to facilitate a January 2015 demonstration; additional contributions were provided by the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Surface Warfare Center facilities at Dahlgren, Virginia and Port Hueneme, California.
The synthetic guidance mode was demonstrated in Tomahawk Flight Test 402, conducted in January 2015. Launched from the DDG 51 Flight IIA destroyer USS Kidd (DDG-100) off San Nicolas Island, California, the Tomahawk Block IV missile changed its course in-flight after receiving ‘third party’ target position updates, via the Tomahawk Strike Network, from a surveillance aircraft. The missile struck a moving target ship on the Point Mugu Sea Range based on these aimpoint updates.
“It was a NAVAIR-funded effort, the whole purpose of which was to say what’s available to us, using the current weapons and capabilities, to get the weapon into the target ‘basket’,” Chris Sprinkle, Raytheon Missile Systems’ senior programme manager for Tomahawk, told Jane’s . “We showed that not only could we get into the target basket, we actually impacted the ship.”
He added, “[Synthetic guidance] leveraged the network to be able to provide rapid in-flight target updates. We’ve always had the ability [but] because it wasn’t designed for moving targets we didn’t build in the software to receive these rapid inflight target updates.
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