Singha wrote:there have been experiments with F-18 sending inflight updates to a few GPS guided munitions in flight by somehow obtaining the changing GPS co-ordinates of moving targets (dont know how its done) . not sure this capability is fielded or they use a cheaper option like a maverick missile or a hellfire+LDP combo. the designator of platforms like A10 and Apaches would surely be able to track moving targets. likewise for the brimstone on the tornado
There is moving target capability and then there are moving target capabilities against all moving targets. Baseline capability of using tactics and LGBs the F-35 can attack slow moving targets but not some of the faster ones. In case of the F-35, the baseline capability was frozen in the early 2000s as they did not want to incorporate weapons, sensor advancements and concepts that themselves were in development at the time as that would have put the entire program at the mercy of other developmental efforts. Full envelope moving target capability was always planned in block 4 when the Small Diameter Bomb - II was to declare IOC with the aircraft. Targeting sensor enhancements developed during the mid to late 2000s and 2010s would be brought in with the Advanced-EOTS which is a multi-spectral system. This is still the case now. SDB-II is currently being operationally tested, and EOTS-NG will begin flight testing shortly.
However, in the meantime, it was brought to the attention of the USAF, that they could move a lot faster and field a capability to attack faster moving targets because they had a fully developed weapon in the GBU-49 that could do the mission if integrated on the F-35. The USAF decided that this was a worthwhile investment and during its analysis, the JPO informed them that it would not have any impact on the Final 3F schedule because integration was relatively straight forward because the stores management system already has the GBU-12 integrated which is a similar weapon.Here is a Jane's article describing the switch. The USAF placed a rapid order for 400 interim GBU-49s and this capability will be fielded on the F-35As well ahead of when the SDB-II declares IOC with the aircraft (SDB-II is as of this month preparing to enter its IOT&E so it will be a few months before it is declared fully operational). US seeks 400 GBU-49 PGMs as interim moving target munition for F-35
Jane's Missiles & Rockets
The US military is to procure 400 Raytheon GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II precision-guided munitions (PGMs) as it looks to afford the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) with an interim moving target capability.
The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), which is the contracting authority for the F-35 across the US services, issued a request for information (RFI) on 14 March for the procurement of the 500 lb PGMs, as well as the associated logistics support. No details pertaining to delivery timelines or contract values were disclosed.
This RFI follows a ‘sources sought’ notice issued in February 2017 for an interim 500 lbclass weapon with a moving target capability for the F-35, to be fielded while the military continues with its Block 3F (full combat capability) integration efforts of the Raytheon GBU-12 Paveway II PGB.
As noted in the 2016 Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) report on the F-35, the GBU-12 has limited moving target capability. “Block 3i [initial combat capability] does not have an automated targeting function with lead-laser guidance (i.e. automatically computing and positioning the laser spot proportionately in front of the moving target to increase the likelihood of hitting the target) to engage moving targets with the GBU-12, like most legacy aircraft have that currently fly close air support (CAS) missions”, the report noted.
”Instead, F-35 pilots can only use basic rules-of-thumb when attempting to engage moving targets with the GBU-12, resulting in very limited effectiveness. Also, limitations with cockpit controls and displays have caused the pilots to primarily use two-ship ‘buddy lasing’ for GBU-12 employment, which is not always possible during extended CAS engagements when one of the aircraft has to leave to refuel on a tanker.
“To meet the Operational Requirements Document stipulation for engaging moving targets, the US Air Force (USAF) is considering integrating the Raytheon GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II, a fielded weapon that has similar size, weight, and interfaces as the GBU-12, or a similar weapon that does not require lead-laser guidance, in Block 3F,” it added.
The US Air Force (USAF) has a programme of record for 1,763 F-35A aircraft; the US Navy is set to receive 273 F-35Cs while the US Marine Corps has a programme of record of 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs.
In April 2017 the Joint Program Office (JPO) dropped GBU-12 Paveway II PGMs from each variant of the F-35 using the Block 3F software. With the F-35 currently fitted with the Block 3i (initial full capability) software, Block 3F is due to be rolled out in May 2018.
The F-35 has 11 weapon stations, including two internal bays (and an internal GAU-22 25 mm cannon for the A-variant, with the B and C being provisioned for a missioned gun-pod).
Block 3F will see the F-35 equipped to employ the GBU-12; GBU-31/32 1,000 lb/2,000 lb Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs); GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB); Navy Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW)-C1; AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM); and AIM-9X infrared guided short-range air-to-air missile.
Beyond Block 3F the F-35 is designed to carry the Storm Shadow and AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) cruise missiles; the GBU-38 500 lb JDAM; AGM-154A/C Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) glide bomb; GBU-31 2,000 lb JDAM; GBU-32 1,000 lb JDAM; GBU-10 2,000 lb Paveway II LGB; GBU-24A/B 2,000 lb Paveway III LGB; GBU-16 1,000lb Paveway II LGB; MK 83 BLU-110 1,000 lb Low-Drag General Purpose (LDGP) bomb; MK 83 BSU-85 High-Drag General Purpose (HDGP) bomb; Mk 84 2,000 lb LD/HDGP bomb; MK 84 BSU-50 Ballute 2,000 lb HDGP bomb; MK 82 500 lb LD & HD bomb; CBU-99/100 Rockeye II cluster munitions CBU-103/105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) system; Brimstone air-to-surface missiles and the Selected Precision Effects at Range Capability (SPEAR) 3.
Since the article was written, the 3F capability has dropped and is now the baseline configuration in both production aircraft and those in frontline squadron service that are now being upgraded with the software. https://www.realcleardefense.com/2018/0 ... 00765.html
As the article gets at as well, it isn't as much that aircraft like the A-10 or other fast jets cannot attack faster moving targets using the GBU-12 - THEY CAN. It is the F-35 with its non-upgraded EOTS that cannot do the same as the older CAS aircraft have received quite a few upgrades to their sensors while F-35 design has been frozen and is now being upgraded via EOTS-NG. When that sensor is dropped in it will give the F-35 the same capability but in the meantime it will rely on the GBU-49 for the faster moving targets which does not require advanced targeting capability. At the end of the day, in the ME type of operations you really do not need the F-35 to drop even a GBU-49 as it is a premium weapon/aircraft combination. You ideally need a Hornet or a Harrier with an APKWS-II which is a much cheaper and optimized weapon for such fast moving trucks. That and the A-10 with its cannon..
Singha wrote:there have been experiments with F-18 sending inflight updates to a few GPS guided munitions in flight by somehow obtaining the changing GPS co-ordinates of moving targets (dont know how its done)
In flight re-targeting and updates are something the JSOW is capable of given its networked nature. The JDAM does not allow that capability to the best of my knowledge.