Air Weapons: Paveway Rolls Over the Competition

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October 3, 2007: While the United States pioneered the development and use of laser guided bombs, there are plenty of competitors. Since 1968, American firms have produced over 40,000 laser guided bombs, mostly for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. Russia soon developed their own, after noting that these bombs were more than eight times as accurate as unguided bombs. The Russian knockoffs of the American laser guided bombs were cheaper, but less reliable. In the 1980s, the U.S. Air Force introduced the Paveway series, the most successful laser guided bomb design ever. The U.S. has two suppliers for laser guided bombs, Lockheed and Raytheon, and the completion between these two keeps the innovations coming. Other nations took a shot a building laser guided bombs. But the only real competition for American laser guided bombs has been Israel, where Elbit developed the Lizard series of weapons. These compete directly with the Paveway, providing more features and lower price to get sales. Both Paveway and Lizard feature "fire and forget capabilities, plus several other targeting options. But there is not so much difference between the latest Paveway and the Lizard that there is a stampede to the Israeli bombs. The Paveway is old reliable. With a 40 year track record, it will take some serious competition to take a significant bit of market share from Paveway.

Meanwhile, Israel is still using, and buying, Paveway bombs. That's mainly because of the billions of dollars in military aid that Israel gets each year. The Israelis are expected to buy American weapons with this money, unless they want to see this funding cut off by a wrathful Congress.

 


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