Tucson tech: Raytheon developing ‘networked weapon’
David Wichner Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:00 am
Budget cuts have derailed some of the Pentagon’s most sophisticated future weapons programs, but Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems is forging ahead with the world’s first “networked weapon.”
Raytheon has completed a “fit check” of the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 in the internal carriage bay of a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, the company announced Sunday at the 2011 Dubai Air Show.
During the fit check, Raytheon technicians loaded a JSOW-shaped object in the F-35′s internal carriage bay and conducted a series of tests to prove the bay door could close properly without damaging the aircraft or the weapon, the company said.
Assuring that the JSOW can be carried internally on the Joint Strike Fighter is critical to retain the fighter’s radar-avoiding stealth design, Raytheon spokesman Mike Nachshen said.
The JSOW is a series of air-to-ground weapons that use an integrated GPS satellite and inertial navigation system, along with an imaging infrared seeker, to guide the weapon to its target.
The latest variant, the JSOW C-1, adds the capability to hit moving ships and a two-way datalink. In late July, the Navy successfully completed the first free-flight test of the JSOW C-1, hitting a moving target ship from 23 miles.
While weapons like Raytheon’s Tomahawk cruise missile operate with two-way datalinks that allow midflight retargeting, the JSOW C-1 is the first that can use data from multiple sources over a common, secure tactical data network, called Link 16.
That means that, after the JSOW is launched, it could be retargeted downrange based on data from any aircraft, ship or ground station equipped with Link 16 and the proper access codes, Nachshen said.
Link 16 systems already are installed on a variety of U.S. and allied air, sea and land platforms, including the F/A-18 Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The JSOW C-1 is in full-rate production, though it is not expected to reach “initial operational capability” until 2013.
While Raytheon’s netted JSOW is advancing, a major program to create a sophisticated battlefield network – the Army’s Future Combat Systems – was canceled as part of Pentagon budget cuts in 2009.
In other local tech news, Applied Energetics Inc., a Tucson-based maker of directed energy systems, has enough cash to operate for at least a year, executives said on a conference call after releasing third-quarter earnings last week.
The company, which was spotlighted in this column two weeks ago, posted a net loss of about $1.8 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30.
President Joe Hayden said the company has cut staff by 22 percent and executive compensation by 15 percent as it retools to focus on lasers and electron-beam generators for industrial applications.
Those measures helped the company achieve annual savings of about $1.75 million, after a one-time charge of $90,000, Hayden said.
Applied Energetics had $5.5 million in cash and equivalents at the end of the third quarter and has enough money to fulfill its contracts for the next 12 months, Chief Financial Officer Humberto Astorga told investors.
Fletcher McCusker, chairman and CEO of Tucson-based Providence Service Corp., will be awarded the 2011 Thomas R. Brown Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award at IdeaFunding, an annual conference for Southern Arizona entrepreneurs and the business community.
McCusker will be presented with the award at the one-day conference on Dec. 7 (for details, go to www.ideafunding.org).
Founded by McCusker in 1996, Providence Service provides social services including counseling and transportation under government contracts. The company has nearly $1 billion in annual revenues and operations nationwide.
The award is named for the late Tom Brown, who co-founded semiconductor chip maker Burr-Brown Corp. Burr-Brown was acquired by Texas Instruments in 2000 for about $7 billion.
Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner email@example.com or 573-4181.