The Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) is a family of low-cost, air to ground glide missiles that employ an integrated GPS-inertial navigation system and thermal imaging infrared seekers.
The development of this weapon started in 1995 by the defence system & electronics division of Texas instrument and was acquired on June 1989 by Raytheon a company, and the JSOW C joined the family in the year 2005. Then the JSOW C1 is born in June 2016 and full operational capability in October 2016
Adding on, JSOW C-1, one of the world first network enabled weapon is the improved version of the existing JSOW C which allow two way strike common weapon data link to the combat-proven missile, enabling a moving maritime target capability. Once JSOW is launched, he will first find or detect, then it will fix it precise location where our target will be in it. After getting a precise location JSOW then will start tracking and waiting for permission to engage. After receiving the permission JSOW will engage and collected data will be transit back to platform for assessment.
Furthermore, by working with JSOW work best with MALD (Miniature Air Launched Decoy) and HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile). Where MALD is fired first to remove incoming attack from ship and base, follow by JSOW to destroy enemy defence. Lastly, with HARM giving the final blow to the target base or Head Quarter via aircraft.
This essay we will discuss the pros and cons about networked enabled system, safety and security implication of the weapon and lastly the future of these weapons in the military.
Pros of Networked Enabled Weapons
This new network enabled weapon allow warship or vessel are able to go against a wider range of enemies such as vessel, small boat and even submarine that are moving. Also user are able to control this weapons at any platform and getting updated information of the target during flight . This allow us to have a better understanding of our enemy’s capabilities and fire power. Also, user is able to change target while the JSOW C-1 is in flight.
With the help of GPS inertial navigation system and thermal imaging infrared seeker. JSOW C-1 is able to plan route to avoid being detected, like instead of flying into enemy radar range to reach its target, JSOW C-1 will fly around the radar range so that it will not get detect and destroy before reaching its target. The weapon is able locate the fatal point of the ship like the engine room using the thermal imaging infrared seeker and user can actually chose which target to destroy and also aim for the fatal point of the ship when the missile approach nearer to the targeted ship while target ship are still moving.
The missile also build with an anti-jam technology, frequency countermeasure and an ability to tailor it trajectory or impact depending upon disposition of a target. For instance, the weapon can be adjust it angle of entry and speed in order to destroy a hardened concrete bunker . Making any type of the concrete bunker impossible to protect their generator or high value unit.
Easier maintenance and operate as the US navy has reduced the complexity of the PVI in F/A-18E/F H10 software, the remaining problem that the user might face could be easy solve and overcome with the proper training and knowledge that will better equipped them. Furthermore the system is than improved in the later year to F/A-18E/F H12.
JSOW C-1 is designed to be a smart missile that is above to destroy any target selected, also it will be hard to destroy this missile as it is able to manoeuvre around target radar range and approach in an angle of the radar blind spot. JSOW C-1 is also like a spy that destroy it target, as it have sensors that allow the missile to capture enemy ship and movement. Also giving you the option to changed target before the missile strike.
Cons of networked enabled weapons
With all the upgrade there come with a great price too, JSOW C-1 cost about USD$661,013 as compare to his sliding which are JSOW A ; JSOW B with a production unit cost of USD$246,585 and USD$429,929. Hence compared to his sibling, JSOW C is actually quite expensive as compare to his siblings and the only thing that stand out for JSOW C from his siblings are high precision and accuracy. Hence, JSOW C-1 cost more because of additional system added into the missile allowing it to strike more accurately to its target and also allowing the missile to change target before it strike.
Next, the weapon itself is really huge and heavy which mean this missile might take out a lot of space as compare to other single purpose type of weapon. With a weight of 500-618kg each, as compare to JASSM, JSOW C-1 is much heavier and carrying might cause to vessel to drop in speed and stability. Also with such heavy missile mean smaller vessel is limited to carry a small amount of JSOW C-1 missile on board.
Comparing JSOW C-1 with JASSM, JSOW C-1 has a much shorter range of 120 nautical mile as compare to JASSM with a range of 500 nautical mile . Even though JSOW ER version is create for longer range, JSOW ER range is only up to 300 nautical mile and it doesn’t attack moving ship as it is make to attack stationary target . Therefore to extend JSOW C-1, further upgrades are needed and this will be additional cost to the JSOW C-1. Putting cost and weight aside, JASSM is able to travel further and costing more damage to the target.
JSOW C-1 also failed to operational mission test for not able to stay in flight for more than 95 hours. Hence, this test is run to ensure when in combat, the missile will not fail if tracking and collecting data of their target in their allocated location.
Safety and Security implication
On the 09 Feb 2016, the navy failed to a free flight test versus a mobile maritime target. This shot was supposed to be an AT-FLIR (Advance Targeting Forward Looking Infrared) targeting shot with handover to a second aircraft for weapon control. Due to range weather limitation, the second aircraft that provide information of the target location and in flight updates to the missile was very near to the target causing very small target location error to the missile to conduct it search are for the target. Adding on, the aircraft that was sending information doesn’t know the bore sight error of missile which cause an error in the target location. This causes the target to be outside the missile search area and a weapon miss occurred. However, a similar exercise has being perform and no error was detected. Therefore, it is still unstable to operation as errors might occurred. And if it occurred, missile might hit non targeted ship causing causality and loss of innocent life. Therefore, it is still unstable to operation as errors might occurred.
Loss of Communication, similar to abort missile, once this happen, user will not be able to control the JSOW C-1 and the missile will follow the last instruction that was given by the user. Therefore, changing target or abort missile will be denied. This is incident could happen is the JSOW C-1 fly into an area that block out all communication line.
Cybersecurity testing was insufficient to fully test to fully test the cyber vulnerabilities of the weapon and support equipment. Hence, more time is required to run test to ensure that JSOW is fully safe and free from hacker from hacking into the system. If the target enemy are able to hack the system of JSOW, they are able to turn the weapon against the user causing a huge amount of damage against us.
The navy also completed 166 captive flight test (CPT) runs verse stationary land target and 160 CPT run verse mobile maritime target. Turn out that computer system was not able to produce compete data that was collected during the flight because of the range, target and the accuracy of the weapon. Therefore, the missile might not strike the selected target due to the incomplete data received and this might change the outcome of the mission.
Future trend of this weapon
Some of the future trend of this weapon will to continue upgrading the software system making it user friendly and making any user able to use and understand without any specialised training. Increase in range by changing the propulsion of the JSOW C-1 it could able to travel longer and further toward the allocated target. Enable long distance control, this mean that user will still able to control until JSOW C-1 strike the target tasked by the user.
Many weapon will soon turn into the smart missile like the JSOW C-1. The JSOW C-1 is still very new and require to run many test to ensure it is combat ready and also complexity system used by the weapons that required proper training before operating the weapon. JSOW C-1 also able to engage both air and surface warfare. This will help to better equipped making many small vessel powerful boosting military attack and defence.