14 May 12. The U.S. Air Force has authorized full rate production of the NexGen Infrared missile warning system (MWS), a Northrop Grumman Corporation-designed, built and tested protection system for C-17, EC-130J, HC/MC-130J and other Air Force platforms. “The full rate production approval of the NexGen missile warning system, a spiral upgrade to the current Ultraviolet missile warning system, will enable the fielding of this capability to our Mobility Air Force airlift and Special Operations fleets, and significantly increase their ability to counter the MANPAD threat,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Shawn Shanley, the Air Force LAIRCM Program’s Senior Material Leader. “This latest milestone decision will ensure the Air Force has the most advanced missile warning system with longer detection range and reduced false alarms,” said Carl Smith, vice president of infrared countermeasures (IRCM) programs at Northrop Grumman’s Land and Self Protection Systems Division.
18 May 12. Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the capabilities of its newly developed target location module (TLM) during testing, in support of the US Army’s stockpile reliability test (SRT) programme at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, US. The TLM is an important part of the battle-proven and portable lightweight laser designator rangefinder high accuracy (LLDR 2H) system. During the testing, the TLM precisely reported grids commensurate required for global positioning system guided munitions. This helped the LLDR 2H successfully acquire the locations of two separate tank-size targets, present at extended ranges from the observation post. The location data was then used by two army’s tactical missile system (ATACMS) missiles to achieve direct hits on both targets, demonstrating the high accuracy of the TLM. Gordon Stewart, laser systems business unit vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman, said that the hybrid sensor solution combined data obtained from a digital magnetic compass and celestial navigation sensors to provide highly accurate azimuth solutions, enabling precise target location.
18 May 12. The US Air Force has conducted an air to ground weapon system evaluation programme (WSEP) exercise, dubbed Combat Hammer, to evaluate its laser joint direct attack munitions (JDAM). During the exercise, conducted at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, US, B-1 Lancer aircrews used six 500lb GBU-54 L JDAMS to strike against moving targets on the Utah Test and Training Range. Conducted to evaluate the complete process of handling, the precision guided munitions from the beginning to the end, the exercise also validated the munitions and other advanced air to ground weapons’ effectiveness, maintainability, suitability and accuracy. The 37th BS commander Lieutenant colonel, Stuart Newberry, said, “Combat Hammer provided us with the unique opportunity to employ weapons in real-world scenarios and evaluate the weapon and aircraft-to-weapon interface in great detail due to the telemetry kits on the weapons. This data, when coupled with scenarios usually unavailable to us except in combat scenarios, provides us with an opportunity to validate and refine our tactics, techniques and procedures … as well as adjust training plans and combat standards. Evaluators will be able to retrieve data from the telemetry kits on the weapons and build a picture of how the weapon was or was not affected in various scenarios. That data is invaluable in refining and adjusting our training plans.”
Combat Hammer lead bomber evaluator, Major Michael Ballard, said that the WSEP focused on the LJDAM cradle-to-grave evaluation. The Combat Hammer team also conducted combat situations such as slowing down or speeding up moving targets, GPS jamming and then attempts to replicate them during the exercises. Integrated with laser seeker, the dual-mode guided weapon LJDAM is capable of providing outstanding accuracy and can be used to engage both stationary and