Two semi-official reports have criticized support arrangements for the UK Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fleet. The UK National Audit Office (NAO) said that the four-nation collaborative contracts were complicated, and had resulted in “shortages of spares and long timescales for equipment repair.” The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) referred to “a very complex supply chain that stretches all over Europe.”
Lockheed Martin last month secured a $30 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for more “paveway” II laser-guided bomb (LGB) kits. Why the use of lower-case to describe this well known “smart” weapon, many thousands of which have been dropped from Western combat aircraft? It’s because LM and Raytheon compete as a dual-source suppliers of the LGB kits, and the two corporations are in a long-running legal dispute over terminology.
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).
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.
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