What has been pending for at least one year has finally happened: The Air Force has awarded Raytheon a contract to supply a new variant of the laser-guided AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, the company announced yesterday. This new version, dubbed the AGM-65E2, will feature state-of-the-art laser seeker technology and an upgraded control section that will enable close air support platforms to use it to attack high-speed moving targets precisely in urban settings. “This contract is a win for the warfighters, because it gives them a reliable combat-proven weapon they can take to war almost immediately,” said Harry Schulte, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of Air Warfare Systems. According to the terms of the deal, Raytheon will provide upgraded components for up to 450 AGM-65E2s for the Air Force and Navy, with first deliveries of the new components expected in 20 to 24 months. US Central Command issued an urgent operational need in 2007 for the means to counter fleeting targets in urban environments with minimal chances of collateral effects. The Air Force identified the new Laser Maverick to address the need, as well as the Laser JDAM, which has already been used in combat.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.