Guided Bomb Unit-16 (GBU-16)
The Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-16) utilizes a 1000-pound general purpose warhead. The operator illuminates a target with a laser designator and then the munition guides to a spot of laser energy reflected from the target. The GBU-16 is a member of the Paveway II series of laser guided bombs (LGBs). These weapons are hybrids. At the core of each is a bomb: a 500-pound Mk 82 for the GBU-12, a 1,000-pound Mk 83 for the GBU-16 and a 2,000-pound Mk 84 for the GBU-10. A laser guidance kit is integrated with each bomb to add the requisite degree of precision. The kit consists of a computer control group at the front end of the weapon and an airfoil group at the back. When a target is illuminated by a laser - either airborne or ground-based - the guidance fins (canards) react to signals from the control group and steer the weapon to the target. Wings on the airfoil group add the lift and aerodynamic stability necessary for in-flight maneuvering. The Air Force is the executive service for the LGB, which can be released from F-15, F-16, F-111, F-117, and A-10 aircraft as well as from the Navy's F/A-18, F-14 and AV-8B.
The GBU-16 consists of a MK-83 1,000-pound bomb modified with a common Paveway II laser guidance kit. During Desert Storm virtually all 219 GBU-16s were dropped by Navy A-6Es, which had the capability to lase the target themselves (self-designation). FA/18 Hornet aircraft flying from USS Enterprise (CVN 65) dropped GBU-16 laser guided bombs during the waves of attacks against Iraq in support of Operation Desert Fox in December 1998.
Four days before Christmas 2001, the Lockheed Martin GBU-16 Laser Guided Bomb team received an especially pleasant holiday treat. Navy officials announced that the company's Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems Division, Archbald, Penn., had been awarded an $80.4 million contract for GBU-16s. News of the contract was received with interest at NAVAIR Weapons Division where for the past year and a half, both the Research and Engineering and the Test and Evaluation competencies have played a significant role in the GBU-16 qualification process.
Lockheed Martin is no stranger to the field of LGBs, nor to the Weapons Division's ranges. The company began developing a Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR) for the Navy in the late 1980s. The LGTR (BDU 57/B) simulates the performance of an LGB at a fraction of the actual weapon's cost, allowing low-cost and highly realistic aircrew training. In 1989 the company successfully tested the LGTR on the Land Range, and the training round soon entered the fleet inventory. Since 1990, Lockheed Martin has produced more than 24,000 LGTRs for the Navy and for other customers in seven countries.
Lockheed Martin returned to the Land Range in 1999 to begin developmental testing of its version of the GBU-16. In the first launch on Nov. 13, 2000, the weapon maneuvered to a direct hit on a G-range sea-container target. Again in 2001 the company sent a team to the Land Range, this time for First Article Testing (FAT) of their GBU-16 to qualify for the second-source contract.
During each test test managers were operating three radars and six to eight cameras on Kineto tracking mounts. After a test, a range surveyor would calculate the exact point of impact relative to the aim point. Safety is paramount in this kind of testing, and because of the size of the Land Range we were able to accommodate the worst-case-impact footprint for releases at altitudes up to 20,000 feet," said Vallelunga. The test program was carried out according to the First Article Testing Test Plan, a rigorously detailed document developed jointly by Division personnel and the customer. The plan ensured that GBU-16 performance was measured against the requirements contained in the Navy's LGB Performance Specification (AS 6192).
F/A-18s from the F/A-18 Advanced Weapons Laboratory in the Research and Engineering Competency served as launch platforms, dropping 11 weapons in four missions. Each mission was designed to gather different types of performance data required by the FAT Test Plan. Three of the test items contained telemetry units designed and built to Lockheed Martin's specifications by the Range Instrumentation Division. Tests were conducted from the test control bays at the Range Control Center, where Lockheed Martin engineers worked with the test manager, test controllers, flight-test engineer, and data specialists. Within an hour after each test, the customer received a CD with all the test data as well as camera video.
Although the ranges were working at near capacity in support of national and homeland defense efforts, the Division's test team was able to accommodate the test program and coordinate aircraft scheduling, flight clearances, safety, instrumentation and communications support. The price structure and the respective obligations of Lockheed Martin and the Weapons Division were spelled out in Customer Service Agreements (CSAs). CSAs let the customer come directlyfor services they can't obtain through commercial sources.
While weapon qualification was a major step in bringing the Lockheed Martin GBU-16 to the warfighters, it was not the final step. Complementing the range activities are the ongoing efforts of the Navy's GBU-16 IPT. That team's job is to manage the overall integration of the weapon with the F/A-18 and pave the way for Fleet introduction. This team includes specialists in structures, aerodynamics, safety, in-service engineering, production, software, electromagnetic environmental effects, logistics and data management.
GBU-16s have been in the Navy's inventory since 1976, and until the 1990s they were obtained from a single manufacturer through sole-source contracts. This made economic sense because maintaining the size of the inventory did not warrant a second source. Then in the 1990s the demand for LGBs increased. The weapons were employed extensively in the Gulf War, were mainstays of allied bombing activity in the Balkan operations, and were used in enforcing the Southern Iraq no-fly zone.
In response to the growing need for the weapons, the Navy adopted a competitive-procurement approach, thereby creating an incentive for the original source to reduce its price. This technique worked, and in 1999 the single-source price of a GBU-16 dropped by 30 percent. The second-source contract just awarded to Lockheed Martin has further reduced the price.
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