Homing In

Raytheon is close to finalizing a contract with the Air Force to supply a new version of its laser-guided Maverick air-to-surface attack missile, according to company officials. The new Laser Maverick, which Air Combat Command designates the AGM-65E2, will be optimized for use in close air support roles via the addition of modern seeker technology and software upgrades that will enhance its performance over the original-vintage laser-guided AGM-65E that Raytheon built for the Navy in the 1980s. “We are working the missile to accommodate new rules of engagement,” Chuck Pinney, Raytheon’s director of Maverick programs, told the Daily Report during an interview Feb. 22 at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. The company expects to deliver the first AGM-65E2s within two years of contract award, said Mark Larson, Raytheon’s senior manager for Strike Weapons business development. Last year the Air Force said it intended to procure 450 new Laser Mavericks to meet an urgent operational need emerging from the US Central Command area of responsibility for a reliable, air-launched weapon that could deliver a precision effect against fleeting targets in urban areas with reduced potential for causing collateral damage or injury. Pinney said the new Laser Maverick will be capable of engaging “very high speed, moving and maneuvering targets” with low risk of collateral effects. Raytheon will build the AGM-65E2 from existing Maverick aft sections in USAF’s inventory, combined with new seeker elements and existing front-end components, Pinney said. Utilizing existing hardware will lessen production costs. Further, the Air Force has said it will apply credits that it has accumulated by returning older Maverick missiles to the company towards the costs of the acquisition. For urban CAS against movers in the interim, USAF has been using a stock of 50 original-vintage Laser Mavericks provided by the Navy.