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Leigh Aerosystems of Carlsbad, CA has developed the LongShot guidance and range-extension package for a variety of "dumb" munitions, including the 1,000-pound CBU-87 cluster bomb and the 500-pound Mk 82 bomb. The kit is a GPS-based guidance and targeting system, along with a pair of extensible wings, which, after bolting onto the bomb, transforms the weapon into a stand-off glide bomb and also feature post-launch retargeting capabilities. The LongShot package is designed to bolt onto any munition with a standard 14-inch lung pattern, creating standoff weapons of unprecedented cost effectiveness when attached to munitions already in a user's inventory.

LongShot is basically a wing adapter kit, and it attaches to just about any bomb in the inventory as long as it doesn't weigh more than about 1,000 pounds. LongShot would, essentially, allow customers to convert an existing dumb bomb inventory into a smart standoff weapon, so it would provide both guidance and navigation to a target and also allow the pilot to release the weapon from a standoff distance to protect both himself and his aircraft from surface-to-air threats. The neat thing about it is that it operates completely independent of aircraft systems so that there is absolutely no need to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars that is normally spent to integrate the new weapon with an aircraft type. The way this is done is through a fairly simple technique that called the data insertion unit, and it is simply a knee-pad device that the pilot carries with him in the cockpit. And he plugs that into his UHF radio and uses the aircraft's radio to communicate with all of these weapons on his aircraft.

The wings, which extend from a compact folded position upon deployment, give the bomb a great deal of maneuverability, as well as glide ratio of 8:1 or higher, depending on the model. This translates into the ability to attack from an altitude of 30,000 feet and hit a point target more than 40 miles away with an accuracy of better than 15 meters. The guidance system, which uses GPS data for navigation, can be pre-programmed for targeting prior to launch, or as an option, can be re-targeted as needed by the flight crew using the small knee-mounted data pad, which transmits over the aircraft's common UHF comm radios, alleviating the need to provide hardwire communications to the weapon.

For older or non-MIL-STD-1760 aircraft, the LongShot range extension wing kit can be used to facilitate aircraft integration. LongShot, a universal wing kit for 1,000 lb. class munitions, allows SFW to operate from older U.S. (F-4, F-5, A-4, early F-16 models) and foreign made aircraft (Tornado, Mirage, AMX, etc.).

When the wing kit is attached to the CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition [a cluster bomb that has been used widely in regional conflicts], it carries the same submunition as carried by the AGM-154A JSOW. The difference is that the CBU-87 carries 202 of those bomblets, whereas Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) carries 145. The range performance is similar. The LongShot version will attain roughly 40 nautical miles, which is the minimum stated for JSOW. On the other hand, when it is attached to a Mark 82, 500 pound general purpose bomb, it will exceed 60 nautical miles in range, which will give it somewhat greater range than JSOW.

The CBU-97/CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW) equipped with Leigh Aerosystems' bolt-on universal wing kit provides increased standoff range, high altitude release and retargeting after launch. LongShot allows older aircraft to use smart air-to-ground munitions such as SFW without modifying the aircraft. CBU-97 SFW configured with a LongShot wing kit can achieve 40 miles standoff range and engage off axis targets. When it is attached to the sensor-fused weapon, or the CBU-97, the LongShot will deliver 68 percent more BLU-108 submunitions on the target than the B version of JSOW will, because the SFW carries 10 of the BLU-108 sensor-fused submunitions, whereas the B version of JSOW carries six. Users get considerably more area coverage at a somewhat lower cost. The cost comparison with the A version of JSOW, though, is more dramatic, because the CBU-87 would be considered a sunk cost, and therefore, the difference between the two weapons would be a factor of five. JSOW, roughly $200,000 to deliver 145 bomblets. And LongShot equipped CBU-87, $40,000 to deliver 202 bomblets. It performs the same mission and has the same accuracy, because it uses the same satellites for its navigational information.

Leigh also offers a LongShot package for the 500-pound GBU-12 laser-guided bomb. In its standard production state, the GBU-12 uses a set of moveable canards to navigate under laser guidance to its impact point. Though the canards provide the directional guidance, they don't extend the bomb's range. With the LongShot kit installed, the GBU-12 now sprouts a pair of glider wings, greatly extending the stand-off ability of the carrier aircraft. The purpose of LongShot on the laser-guided bomb is simply to provide it long legs, so that once LongShot delivers it to a target area, it releases it, and the bomb just thinks it has been released from an aircraft and goes about its business. Its laser system becomes active at that point. LongShot allows the weapon to fly with GPS navigation to a "basket" in the sky, from where the laser targeting system takes over and guides the bomb to its final destination.

Under the nomenclature "Condor" the system has been tested with the JDAM munition.

The LongShot kit is designed to be compatible with all combat aircraft, and requires no aircraft interface modification. It has been successfully flight tested on a number of aircraft including the F-16 and F/A-18. Testing of an improved guidance system is underway, using the Saab F- and TF-35 Drakens operated by Flight Research Inc., of Mojave, CA.

LongShot has been a source of great excitement because it offers an unprecedented level of cost-effectiveness for the war-fighter. But at the same time, it has also been a source of continuing frustration, because it has been derived out of the technology that did not follow the accepted path of weapon development within the US Government, the classic ''not invented here'' approach.

LongShot started in private development just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since military planners were going to be thinking more about how to upgrade their existing systems rather than how to buy and invent new and expensive ones, Leigh Aerosystems got the idea of how to upgrade the vast inventories of air-to-surface munitions throughout the world. The development of LongShot has been largely private. It has been a tough road since we have had to compete with well-funded, government-funded and sponsored programs. But Leigh Aerosystems managed to survive, largely on second mortgages, credit lines and some small foreign contracts.

In 1995 the Air Force Development Test Center (AFDTC) at Eglin AFB FL undertook a Sole Source acquisition in accordance with FAR 6.302-1, only one responsible source, to Leigh Aerospace Corporation for the acquisition of a Longshot Adapter Kit Demonstration. The contract was for a limited number (approximately 12 with an option for 4 additonal) of extended range adapter kits plus associated support items including Data Insertion Units (DIU), on-site technical support, technical manuals, etc. necessary to properly conduct an evaluation of the current state of the art technology in low cost extended range munitions adapter kits with self contained guidance and navigation capability. These items supported an evaluation program being conducted by the Air Warfare Center (AWC), under direction of Air Combat Command.

In 1996 the Coastal Systems Station, Dahlgren Div, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Florida awarded a sole source Purchase Order to Leigh Aerosystems for a Feasibility Study and Engineering Analysis of the potential for the application of technological advances to the Longshot delivery vehicle. The study performed a cost feasibility and design analysis of adapting the current delivery vehicle to deliver munition canisters with 30 inch lug spacing. It looked at the cost feasability and design analysis of up-scaling the current deliery vehicle. This analysis was driven by the need to deliver MK65 mines. The contractor performed an investigation of GPS vulnerability. The intent will be to increase the anti-jam characteristics of the GPS system used in the current deliver vehicle. The contractor performed an investigation of the general use of cluster weapons in the surf zone obstacle clearance and Mine Counter measure missions. The contractor documented the analysis effort and the results in a final report of the study.

In 1998 the Coastal System Station had a sole source requirement for Leigh Aerosystems Corporation to assess their Longshot wing kit. The Longshot wing kit is owned by Leigh Aerosystems and is proprietary in nature. Documentation to be provided by Leigh Aerosystems contains proprietary information. The Longshot wing kit will be used a baseline platform for delivering precision guided munitions from over-the-horizon. The assessment of ingress accuracy of Longshot equipped munitions will result in a "basket Circular Error probable (CEP)." This "basket CEP" will help define a field of view requirement for a terminal guidance seeker being designed by the Surf Zone Technology Standoff Delivery project.

This "basket" represents an area in the sky where a glide bomb must fly to - in order for the seeker to be within parameters to guide the bomb to the target. This determines the image processing requirements for developing and implementing an image-based, terminal seeker for an unpowered glide bomb. The sensor is expected to be multi-spectral in nature and may provide images in the visual or infrared bands. Seeker, reconnaissance, and reference images must be co-registered, fused, and used for automated target-detection.

By early 2001 Leigh Aerosystems had performed about 36 releases from about five different aircraft types, using four different munitions. Most of these had been outside the US, because Leigh Aerosystems looked upon in the foreign market as a very affordable solution to satisfy Precision Guided Munition (PGM) acquisition programs with foreign air forces. And for some, LongShots are the only solution, because there is no way that they could afford others.


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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:51:42 ZULU