Raytheon Paveway IV Smart Bomb Now Available to RAF

 - August 22, 2008, 10:50 AM

A new “smart” bomb employing three guidance modes is entering service with the UK Royal Air Force. The Raytheon Paveway IV is a 500-pound laser-guided weapon that can alternately be guided by GPS, with backup from an INS system if GPS is not available for any reason (such as jamming). The bomb encountered technical delays during development, caused mainly by the bomb fuzes supplied by Thales Missile Electronics, but these performed properly in a recent operational evaluation of the Paveway IV that was conducted on the China Lake Weapons Range in California. The weapon is now being cleared for service on the RAF’s Harrier GR.9 fleet, but it will be another three years before it can be dropped by the RAF’s Tornado and Typhoon combat aircraft, unless the schedule is accelerated. However, those aircraft already carry an interim version of the Paveway IV, designated Enhanced Paveway II, which is a 1,000-pound weapon. Raytheon Systems Limited (RSL), the company’s UK subsidiary, managed development of the Paveway IV. Exports of the new weapon are now likely, according to Tobin Touchstone, director of precision-guided bombs for RSL. “The improved warhead and smart fuze should be of interest to the U.S. and other countries,” he said.