Australian Department of Defence, Two missiles have been successfully fired from an F-111 aircraft at the Woomera Test Range in South Australia, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.
“The firings are the first for an AGM-142E missile in the region and form a key milestone in the test and evaluation program that will lead to acceptance of the missile into service,” Senator Hill said. “The F-111/AGM-142E combination will ensure that the Air Force maintains an effective precision, long-range strike capability until the arrival of the upgraded F/A-18 and new longer range weapons.
“It will provide a capability to strike non-hardened and semi-hardened fixed targets while providing greater stand-off range than can be achieved with free-fall munitions, improving the survivability of the F-111C aircraft.
“The AGM-142E missile has the longest range of the air to ground weapons currently available within the ADF and is capable of engaging a wide range of targets from more than 50 kilometres away.”
Senator Hill said this latest testing demonstrates that the Government is continuing to invest in the F-111. “The F-111 serviceability is currently excellent, and all operational and training commitments are being met. The F-111 will continue to operate as a front-line part of Australia's defences until at least 2010. The fleet will not be retired until all of the F-18 upgrades are in place.”
The AGM-142E weapon system comprises a standoff, air-to-ground, electro-optical guided missile fitted with an imaging infrared seeker and a Data Link Pod. The missile weighs over 1300 kilograms, is powered by a single stage solid rocket motor and can be armed with either a general-purpose blast fragmentation warhead or a penetrating warhead.
The AGM-142E is produced by Precision Guided Munitions – United States, a joint venture company comprising RAFAEL and Lockheed Martin, and is being procured by the Defence Materiel Organisation from the US Government, via foreign military sales.
The aircraft modifications required to integrate the AGM-142E weapon system were designed and incorporated by Boeing Australia Limited. “Formal introduction of the missile into operational service is scheduled for early next year,” Senator Hill said.
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