Dubai Air Show

Raytheon seeks ‘precise’ solutions

 - December 7, 2006, 10:47 AM

Just as those responsible for fighting wars now talk in terms of “effects”–as opposed to material assets–when discussing battle management and the equipment available to them, so defense contractors increasingly talk about “solutions” rather than products.

Traditionally, force commanders first looked at the assets at their disposal and deployed them as they saw fit. Today, the emphasis lies with first establishing the effects that the commander wishes to create, and then studying the assets available that can achieve those effects. The result may very well turn out the same–Aircraft X drops Weapon Y on Target Z–but this subtle change in approach may also throw up startlingly different results, perhaps using sea- or land-based weapons to perform a traditional air task, or the imaginative use of aircraft systems in roles for which their designers did not intend.

Examining the range of effects available, as opposed to the range of hardware, also makes strength deficiencies more obvious. So, of course, does real-world operational experience. Identifying theoretical capability gaps, combined with feeding back reports from the front line, provides industry with the direction it needs for its research and development efforts. Effects-based warfare breeds solutions-based development.

Raytheon (Stand E501) claims to have firmly embraced the solutions-based approach. At the heart of many of the capability gaps identified lies the need to deliver weapons with greater accuracy, and with less delay between the time the target is identified and the time it is attacked. Consequently, precision engagement has become one of Raytheon’s strategic business areas.

“Servicing the warfighter–now” serves as Raytheon’s motto in this arena, and the company offers to draw up a solid proposal to fill capability gaps within nine weeks of initiating a program. The military leadership’s input drives the process; customers often communicate operational needs during regular industry days, when contractors and brass get together to discuss emerging requirements.

Using input from the brass, a Raytheon military utility assessment team will draw up a draft CONOPS (concept of operations), which then gets validated through computer modeling based on likely/existing scenarios and the required effects. The  modeling process identifies a list of critical factors, each of which the proposed solution needs to address. Around six weeks have passed since the process began.

Raytheon itself has a vast portfolio of state-of-the-art weapons and equipment, but its proposal team examines options from other contractors so that it can submit a “best of industry” proposal. It allocates the seventh week to forging proposed partnerships with other suppliers. It devotes week eight to drawing up a development roadmap for the proposal, and just nine weeks after program initiation, it sends a detailed proposal back to the warfighter.

Cost is an inevitable factor, and a proposal may include a number of options, but with the ramifications of cost plotted against effect clearly spelled out. If the potential customer determines that the proposal shows promise, Raytheon then undertakes to demonstrate the proposal in hardware form within a year, drawing on its own funds to finance the development.

Raytheon Solutions

While it claims to be fully prepared to incorporate “best of industry” products from other suppliers in its proposals, Raytheon offers several key products of its own that inevitably form the core of its offerings, filling key niches in the sensor-to-shooter process of “sense, decide, act.”

To fulfill the “sense” function Raytheon offers the AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar and ATFLIR targeting pod. Now operating in U.S. Air Force F-15 and U.S. Navy F/A-18 combat airplanes, AESA earns its status as a key force-multiplier by allowing the aircraft to carry out several roles simultaneously.

As well as handling multiple air-to-air engagements, AESA can provide accurate ground targeting and electronic protection. It connects well with other sensors, and with offboard platforms. ATFLIR offers a precision reconnaissance/target designation capability from long range, and the ability to pass designated target coordinates to GPS-guided weapons.

By combining precise data from AESA, ATFLIR (or similar pod) and offboard sensors, a warfighter can identify targets rapidly. The increasing use of networked systems allows the fighter–be it the pilot in the cockpit or a commander on the ground–to “decide” to act with increasingly shorter time delays following initial target acquisition.

In today’s operational scenarios the decision to act often depends on the expected extent of collateral damage. For years the traditional laser-guided bomb has provided the necessary accuracy to hit pinpoint targets, and with small-size or even nonexplosive (concrete) warheads has proven itself in tight circumstances against urban targets. However, weather affects the traditional LGB, and if laser designation is lost during the trajectory it will free-fall ballistically, possibly causing unintentional damage. The GPS-guided JDAM does not suffer from that shortcoming, as it steers itself to a predetermined point, but its accuracy has not proven sufficient for use against pinpoint targets.

Raytheon offers the Enhanced Paveway II (EPII) as a solution. By employing both laser and GPS guidance the EPII offers the best of both methods, and can switch between the two, a particularly valuable feature in marginal conditions. If laser designation is lost then the GPS mode takes over to steer the bomb to within a few feet of the laser DMPI (desired mean point of impact). It also aids flexibility because it acts, in effect, as two weapons in one. During Operation Iraqi Freedom the EPII became the weapon of choice of the UK Royal Air Force, which particularly liked its dual-mode capabilities.

Raytheon has begun working with Northrop Grumman to develop improved ground designation techniques for the EPII–an example of cooperative development to fill an identified capability gap. The goal–to make an aircraft capable of short-notice, single-pass, high-precision attack against multiple targets, designated by a variety of third parties and by a variety of methods, and in which the launch aircraft can be free to maneuver right after weapons release–is moving considerably closer.

Here at Dubai 2005, Raytheon is also showcasing its broad array of advanced weaponry including its AMRAAM, AIM-9X Sidewinder and dual-mount Stinger missiles. It can also brief visitors on its precision engagement joint standoff weapon, and the Maverick and high-speed anti-radiation missiles. The T/A Texan II primary trainer aircraft is in the static display.