According to the Jane’s (IHS Inc.), the Royal Air Force (RAF) has completed the first in-service releases of the Raytheon Paveway IV precision-guided bomb from a Eurofighter Typhoon.
1(Fighter) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, successfully released two live Paveway IV weapons at Cape Wrath Training Area on 25 November as part of the squadron’s work up with the new Phase One Enhancement (P1Eb) Typhoon capability upgrade.
The squadron conducted a total of eight Paveway IV drops during the week of 24 November, with a mix of profiles including GPS and laser guidance; pre-planned and target of opportunity using the pilot’s Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA); and employing both impact and airburst fusing settings on the weapon.
The eagerly awaited P1Eb upgrade brings full air-to-surface capability for the Tranche 2 aircraft. It provides enhancements to the Litening III Laser Designator Pod (LDP) and the HEA as well as with Paveway IV. The LDP can now also be used seamlessly with the HEA to visually identify air tracks at long range, as well as identifying, tracking and targeting points on the ground. The Paveway IV offers increased precision, stand-off, and flexibility of employment, and the Typhoon can release a number of weapons to different targets in a single pass. BAE Systems test pilot Steve Formoso commented, «P1Eb standard Typhoons can carry up to six Paveway IV weapons, which can be released simultaneously against multiple targets».
Paveway IV (500 lb/230 kg)
Manufactured by Raytheon Systems Ltd, UK, Paveway IV dual-mode (INS/GPS and laser-guided) precision guided bomb significantly increases the RAF’s capability to deliver precision effects matched to the target set. The weapon is cockpit-programmable and allows the aircrew to select weapon impact angle, attack direction and fuzing mode to detonate in airburst, impact or post-impact delay modes. The fuze minimizes collateral damage through the ability to detonate the weapon when buried or partially buried, and is fitted with a ‘Late-Arm’ safety functionality that will not allow an off-course munition to arm. The company has also developed a penetrator warhead for the Paveway IV, through which Raytheon is aiming to provide roughly the same level of capability as a 2,000 lb penetrator in a 500 lb package. To achieve this, the warhead incorporates an inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud, operating on the same principle as a sabot round to provide a higher sectional density and reduced impact area to improve penetration.
The lighter Paveway IV’s provides greater flexibility giving the potential for a single aircraft to carry more weapons and so strike multiple targets in a single pass. The weapon can be reprogrammed with target data by the aircrew while airborne by using data from on-board sensors or from Forward Air Controllers on the ground. Paveway IV also retains the legacy laser guidance capability of its predecessors.
Other improvements over older weapons include less drag, greater accuracy, higher resistance to GPS jamming, better supportability, zero maintenance, lower cost and improved safety signatures. The weapon went straight onto an operational footing after its introduction into service being carried by Harrier GR9 in Afghanistan. It was later integrated onto Tornado GR4 with outstanding success on missions in both Afghanistan and Libya. Paveway IV is also a candidate weapon for integration into Joint Combat Aircraft.