Air Weapons: Too Smart For Americans

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March 15, 2011: A British Typhoon fighter recently successfully dropped the first Paveway IV used by this aircraft type. This test was to confirm that the Eurofighter Typhoon's fire control system could program a Paveway IV with GPS target information. Paveway IV is a dual guidance (laser/GPS) kit that is attached to an unguided bomb. The 50.5 kg (111 pound) Paveway kit  contains guidance electronics, computers and battery powered winglets. But to work, the carrying aircraft must have a fire control system that enables the pilot to get the GPS data (received from troops on the ground) into the Paveway IV equipped bomb.

The Paveway IV system is actually a guidance kit that, once attached to a one ton, half ton or quarter ton bomb, can achieve precise (within a meter or less) accuracy using a laser designator, or use GPS guidance to land within ten meters (31 feet) of the aiming point. The U.S. firm that manufactures the Paveway bombs, Raytheon, has produced over 250,000 kits so far, of which about twenty percent have been used in combat, with great success. Earlier versions of Paveway did not have GPS. Most just only had laser guidance. While more accurate, laser guidance requires that someone on the ground or in the air be shining a laser on the target. The Paveway then homes in on the reflected laser light (of a particular frequency).

The Paveway IV is not used by the U.S. Air Force or Navy, but, so far, is only exported. The biggest buyers have Arab nations in the Persian Gulf. In the U.S., JDAM and other GPS-only weapons are much more popular.

 

 


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