The US Navy’s DMLGB Program
“Dual guidance” bombs are becoming popular. They cost more, but deliver on versatility once all that money has been spent to get its carrying aircraft into position. GPS/INS guidance gives them the ability to bomb through sandstorm, fog, or other obscurement; or from high altitude, or without active targeting. Laser guidance adds other advantages, including improved accuracy and the ability to moving targets that have been “painted” by a laser designator.
Britain’s Paveway-IV project, France’s recent retrofits, Boeing’s LJDAM, and Raytheon’s Enhanced Paveway family weapons all fall into this category. So, too, does RAFAEL’s Spice, though it uses a combination of GPS/INS and imaging infrared (IIR). In October 2008, US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) added another entry when PMA-201 Precision Strike Weapons delivered the first Dual-Mode Laser-Guided Bomb (DMLGB) to the Fleet…
The weapons will equip USMC AV-8B Harriers, and USMC and US Navy F/A-18A-D Hornets. Integration is also planned for the US Navy’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, and could be undertaken with any aircraft that had appropriate carriage capacity and a MIL-STD 1760 databus.
DMLGB was a US Navy and Marine Corps program, which began in 2005 as a result of an urgent operational request to prosecute targets in poor weather conditions, or when a lack of continuous targeting data is available for other reasons. Rather than building a new weapon, however, the Navy/USMC request wanted a vendor to modify Paveway laser guidance kits already in inventory, in order to make them dual-guidance weapons. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are the 2 producers of Paveway guidance kits, and Lockheed Martin won the ensuing competition. In November 2005, they received a $65.2 million contract that included both First Article Acceptance Testing, and conditional production.
First rollout of production deliveries was in September 2007, and in 2008 a PMA-201 team tested 25 DMLGBs on F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harriers in various conditions. The tests were deemed successful, demonstrating the ability to strike vertical and horizontal targets with precision at close-in and extended ranges. Initial Operational Capability was declared in January 2009, and a total of 7,000 modified kits are expected by 2010. At that point, the DMLGB program is expected to close itself out, having fulfilled the forces’ requirement. See also: NAVAIR release.