July 29, 2005 Boeing’s precision multiple moving target engagement goals for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet moved a step closer this week when it successfully demonstrated the capability of a single F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to engage moving land targets during a test at the Naval Air Warfare Center, in China Lake, California. Real-time targeting updates were accomplished using the aircraft's existing Digital Communications System (DCS) to communicate over a standard military link to a 2,000-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) equipped with a UHF weapon data link module. The weapon data link module included a miniature radio transceiver that transmitted link status back to the aircraft during weapon free-fall.
In the guided release demonstration, the position of the moving target, a radio-controlled panel-side truck, was continuously tracked by the Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) sensor onboard the Super Hornet. Periodic target updates were provided to the JDAM throughout the weapon's flight to the target. As a result, the F/A-18 weapon system successfully guided the inert bomb to within two meters of the moving target - close enough to destroy most moving targets. During a previous flight, two-way UHF link connectivity was verified to 40 miles between a ground-mounted JDAM and aircraft in flight. The UHF weapon data link exceeded expectations in maintaining communications between the F/A-18 aircraft and the JDAM during weapon deployment.
"This is just another step in our efforts to develop an all-weather multiple moving target engagement capability for the Super Hornet," said Chris Chadwick of Boeing's F/A-18 program. "We plan to expand on this effort, to meet the goals of precision multiple moving target engagement envisioned in Sea Power 21."
Further demonstrations of the Super Hornet's future precision engagement capabilities are planned for later this year.