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Joint Advanced Weapon System (JAWS)

The Joint Advanced Weapon System (JAWS) was a missile planned to replace TOW and possibly HELLFIRE. JAWS was intended to possess a true "fire and forget" capability. This was to be accomplished through an infrared imaging system that would allow the missile to seek targets on the battlefield for which it had been preprogrammed. For instance, if the missile was "looking" for an enemy T-72 tank but instead "sees" a friendly M1A1 tank, the missile would not home in on the friendly tank.

JAWS was a joint service multi-role follow-on weapon system for the current TOW and Hellfire missiles, to support Army and USMC Mission Need Statements (MNS) for weapon requirements for the post-2000 force structure. Navy JAWS efforts supported joint trade studies, Analysis of Alternatives (AOA), and the development of emerging programs' Milestone 0 documentation.

Through Memorandums of Understanding (MOU), the Army was assigned as the lead service. Development programs included The Army Combined Arms Weapon System (TACAWS), the Advanced Missile System- Heavy (AMS- H), the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guided rocket, and component upgrades to existing missile systems. The Navy participated in technology modeling and simulation efforts at the Army's Advanced Prototyping, Engineering, and experimentation (APEX) Laboratory. This modeling supported hardware development efforts such as the Future Missile Technology Integration (FMTI) program, to explore advanced guidance, propulsion, and motor capabilities desired by the services. As a simulator, the APEX Lab also assisted in developing potential Tactics, Techniques, and procedures (TTPs), and in operationally validating the requirements set out in the MNS and the ORD. All JAWS efforts supported the services' requirements for state-of-the-art capabilities to complement the next generation of aircraft and to defeat the threats of the post-2000 battlefield.

Allowances were not being made by the Army and the Marine Corps for the possibility that JAWS might not satisfy the requirements and needs for the Marine Corps' attack helicopters. TOW had a shelf life of 10 years. Planned operational fielding of the JAWS missile was 2005, but the last planned purchase of TOW missiles for the Army and Marine Corps had already taken place.

In 1992 the Marine Corps Aviation Weapons and Requirements Branch, Headquarters Marine Corps, drafted a Mission Need Statement for JAWS. The purpose of the Mission Need Statement (MNS), was to jointly provide the Army and the Navy/Marine Corps team with a highly versatile weapon that would permit simultaneous engagement of multiple targets. Its goal was to enable force commanders to focus lethal combat power, enhance survivability, and achieve freedom of action on a modern, dynamic battlefield.

The Army also concurred with the MNS of the Marine Corps, and was particularly interested in the applicability of JAWS to satisfy the deficiencies in the air to air capability of its attack and scout aircraft.

The description of the JAWS program as envisioned by the Army, and specifically MICOM, was to provide a follow on anti-armor replacement for the HELLFIRE II (HOMS) and the TOW-2 AIR missile, overcoming the current operational limitations inherent in laser and/or wire guided SACLOS weapons. The objectives of the program were the following:

  • To "neckdown", that is, to produce one missile where today there are two, TOW and HELLFIRE.
  • To augment the AIM-9 missile for an anti-helo capability (a capability that the Army was more concerned with than the Marine Corps).
  • To fire and forget the missile
  • To possess a very high speed and long range.
  • To be IOC (have an initial operating capability) by 2003.
  • 6. To be fully operational in 2005.

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