Strike anytime, anywhere,
Incapacitate many targets of many different kinds,
Predict and assess results, and
Sustain operations in a high tempo,
Losses to own force,
Collateral damage, and
Force size and cost.
Current and programmed naval weapons for power projection are launched from manned attack aircraft, surface combatants, and attack submarines.
The Navy’s principal attack aircraft today are the carrier-launched F/A-18 C/ D and F-14, and the vertical-take-off-and-land (VTOL) AV-8, used principally for close air support.
The F/A-18 E/F is scheduled for initial operational capability in the next few years, and the Joint Strike Fighter program is in the advanced development stage. As an example of weapons payload capability, the F/A-18 E/F will deliver several thousand pounds more than 500 miles from the carrier without refueling.
Naval tactical aircraft will rely principally on the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) as the link for updating target information for situational awareness and strike coordination. The Global Broadcast System may also provide key data for targeting and situational awareness. The naval aviation community recognizes the value of connecting aircraft to external sources. For example, a major component of the Joint Strike Fighter program is a trade-off study to determine how much command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment the aircraft should carry on board and how much it can rely on off-board sources to provide. Reducing aircraft cost is a driver in the study.
Air-launched weapons are often categorized by their flight range into direct attack (R < 15 nautical miles), standoff from point-defense (15 < R < 60), and standoff from area defense (R > 60). The joint direct attack munition (JDAM) has become the weapon of choice for many direct attack missions. A JDAM is built by attaching a kit with Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) guidance and fin controls to an existing 1,000 or 2,000 lb free-fall bomb. (A kit for 500 lb bombs is planned for later introduction.) Other older man-in-the-loop precision-guided munitions (e.g., Maverick with electro-optical (EO) or infrared (IR) guidance) will remain in the inventory but production will cease. In the near future, the joint standoff weapon (JSOW), a gliding weapon with a GPS receiver and an INS, will become the weapon of choice for standoff