Warplanes: June 4, 2001

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The US Air Force plans to buy more air-launched cruise missiles to replenish the stockpile expended during the Kosovo War. One option is to build more of the AGM-86C Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, with a new engine that could increase the range to beyond 2500km and keep the launch aircraft well out of the range of the new Russian-built S300 anti-aircraft missiles. This option would include a new GPS guidance system that is harder to jam. Another option is to buy an extended-range version of the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. This would use the original seeker and warhead but a new turbofan engine would double the range to 1,000km. This new design could be ready in 36 months, twice as long as a long-range CALCM. This option would be considerably less expensive, costing $55,000 per missile. --Stephen V Cole

 


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