The US Air Force awarded
Raytheon Missile Systems a $47.9 million contract for 469 Maverick units. According to the company
, the Maverick is a precision-attack missile for the air, naval and marine forces of 30 countries. Maverick
is certified for use on more than 25 aircraft, including helicopters, fighters, attack and patrol aircraft. More than 69,000 missiles have been produced to date, and more than 6,000 have been used in combat, with 93 percent accuracy. The missile’s guidance software provides attack capability around-the-clock against fixed high-value targets, high-speed moving and maneuvering armored vehicles, ships and fast boats, and targets of opportunity. Targets of opportunity provide all-altitude point-and-shoot flexibility ideally suited for time-critical strike in urban close air support and maritime operations. Raytheon will perform work in Tucson, Arizona. Estimated completion date is September 30, 2021.
Raytheon is restarting its production line to produce AGM-65E2/L laser-guided Maverick missiles, and will also upgrade existing stocks, in response to demand from the front lines. The AGM-65 rose to its greatest prominence during Desert Storm, when many of TV’s missile-eye views of air strikes came from Mavericks. In truth, it was produced in 3 versions: TV-guided (AGM-65A/B/D/H), Imaging Infrared (AGM-65G) guided, and laser-guided (AGM-65E). Production continues for the TV and IIR variants, but the Marines’ AGM-65E laser-guided version had gone out of production.
The AGM-65 Maverick was the first general purpose fire-and-forget tactical air-to-ground missile in service with the U.S. Air Force. The JAGM program initially proposed to replace it, but program changes ensured that Maverick remains the default American option for jet fighter precision-guided missile strikes out to around 20+ km / 12 nmi. While IIR and TV guidance allow precision attacks, laser guidance generally offers the best accuracy of the 3 against ground targets. Likewise, there are circumstances in which a fully-powered missile is a better choice than an unpowered gliding bomb. The following story from Iraq illustrates…