US Navy’s Joint Standoff Weapon C-1 achieves full operational capability

A Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1 impacts a target during a flight test in March 2016 at Point Mugu Sea Test Range, Calif. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy’s first air-to-ground network-enabled weapon capable of attacking stationary land and moving maritime targets – the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1  – has recently achieved full operational capability.

As a result of this, all US squadrons are now outfitted with JSOW C-1, Naval Air Systems Command said in an announcement.

“Formal declaration of full operational capability for JSOW C-1 is the final step in a phased approach to introducing this weapon and its capabilities to the fleet,” said Cmdr. Sam Messer, JSOW deputy program manager. “It is the culmination of a complete team effort to deliver not only the hardware, but the training, tactics development and support infrastructure to ensure we field a meaningful warfighting capability.”

JSOW C-1 reached initial operational capability in 2016. The program then began a series of four fleet-wide exercises that demonstrated the capabilities of the weapon in increasingly complex scenarios.

The road to full operational capability began with RIMPAC 2016 where the JSOW training team executed a virtual network-enabled weapon mission during the harbor phase. The two-day training mission culminated in the loading of Super Hornet mission cards with the appropriate keys and JSOW files for Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) to fly a JSOW C-1 mission.

A month later, using real-time lessons learned from RIMPAC, CVW-5 executed the first operational shots of live JSOW C-1’s during the Valiant Shield 2016 SINKEX, resulting in high-order impacts and sinking of the former USS Rentz.

This event included multiple firsts for JSOW including the first ever operational employment of an air-launched network-enabled weapon and receipt of targeting data from the Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS).

In support of the SINKEX, the JSOW team delivered four Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs) to CVW-5 in Atsugi, Japan ahead of schedule. Naval Air Facility Atsugi was the first fleet location to receive the JSOW C-1 CATM.

Next, JSOW C-1 engaged in Northern Edge 2017, a contingency exercise that prepares joint U.S. forces to respond to crises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. During this joint forces exercise, at the Gulf of Alaska and around central Alaska, approximately 6,000 military members gather to take on the most challenging scenarios in the Pacific theater.

Northern Edge 17 facilitated network-enabled weapon kill-chain CONOPS development at all threat levels, including the contribution of off-board joint participants in tactical scenarios.

The JSOW training team also delivered CATM training to Top Gun and the Naval Air Warfare Development Center at NAS Fallon, Nevada, and CVW-9 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, in preparation for the exercise.

Following Northern Edge, the JSOW team embarked aboard the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in support of coalition network-enabled weapon operations during exercise Talisman Sabre 2017. The biennial combined Australian and United States event is designed to train military forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations to improve the combat readiness and interoperability between the two militaries.

Twelve maritime strike exercise events were conducted employing embedded Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Super Hornets with JSOW C-1 CATMs alongside their US Navy counterparts. RAAF Super Hornets carried JSOW C-1 free-flight vehicles, while US Navy Super Hornets were outfitted with JSOW C-1 CATMs.

This latest JSOW variant includes GPS/INS guidance, terminal IR seeker and a Link 16 weapon data link.

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