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Same punch, longer reach

Raytheon adds range to meet demands of expanding battlefield

A Griffin missile rockets out of its launcher. The motor in Raytheon's Griffin C-ER nearly triples the precision weapon's flight distance.

They pack the same power, but now they fly even farther.

Raytheon’s line of weapons – from the fighter-jet fixture AMRAAM to the 33-pound Griffin missile – are gaining range by way of rocket boosters, high-tech sensors and advanced algorithms. The added distance keeps troops and sailors farther from the fray, and it buys commanders critical time to make decisions in an ever-expanding battlefield.

Raytheon officials discussed the upgrades at the 2015 International Defence Exhibition and Conference, or IDEX, in Abu Dhabi. The improvements are especially important to Middle Eastern customers looking to protect oil fields, shipping lanes, water plants and other strategic infrastructure. Many of them face threats from militant groups and hostile nations that are acquiring more sophisticated weapons of their own.

“Planes are flying higher and faster. They’re gaining in their countermeasures or evasive capability. And cruise missiles, which are cheap and readily available to a potential adversary, are also proliferating,” said Robert Lescanec, who leads business development efforts in Europe for Raytheon Integrated Air and Missile Defense. “A good way to deal with that environment is to be able to engage those threats at greater distances, because it allows the warfighter more time to neutralize the threat.”

And the stakes are only going to rise as ballistic missile technology proliferates, the U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center wrote in a 2013 report.

“Current trends indicate adversary ballistic missile systems are becoming more mobile, survivable, reliable, and accurate while also achieving longer ranges,” the center said, warning that the missile threats “are likely to continue to increase and grow more complex over the next decade.”

Raytheon is also finding new ways to broaden the reach of radars. JLENS, a system of aerostats, or tethered blimps, can spot cruise missiles and other threats from hundreds of miles away. The system began a test flight over Washington, D.C., in late 2014 and can watch over an area the size of Texas. The company's AN/TPY-2 radar gives commanders unprecedented warning of faraway missiles shortly after launch, and its complex computer algorithms can distinguish a warhead from other objects.

Raytheon’s weapon upgrades include:

An F-16 Fighting Falcon fires an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. The missile is set to receive upgrades that would boost its range by up to 60 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Improving the features of long-standing weapons systems, as well as boosting their range, is a major part of Raytheon's innovation strategy.

"It's all about bringing them the capability they need to protect their forces and prosecute their threats," said Laura J. McGill, deputy vice president for engineering at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. "The landscape is changing all the time, so we have to be adaptive."

Published: 02/21/2015

Last Updated: 08/18/2015

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