Claws for the Polish F-16 Fighters. Air Force Acquires Anti-Radiation, Anti-Tank and Stand-Off Ordnance.
The Armament Inspectorate of the Polish Ministry of Defence has initiated technological dialogues pertaining to anti-radiation and anti-tank missiles, as well as submunition-based weaponry for the F-16 jet fighters. Should all of the above dialogues lead to tenders and subsequent introduction of the armament into the inventory of the Polish Air Force, this shall mean that the firepower remaining at disposal of the Polish F-16 jets will be greatly enhanced.
The Armament Inspectorate announced that a market analysis has been initiated, the goal of which is to get acquainted with the ordnance offer available for the F-16 C/D Block 52+ jets, assuming that the fighter will be operated in the Polish configuration and software – OFP M 6.5 – which is to be ultimately implemented soon. In practical terms this means that the new armament is expected to be compatible with the fighter jets which are modernized, with the upgrades being introduced in parallel with integration of the JASSM cruise missiles.
Within the scope of the dialogue pertaining to the potential procurement of new anti-radiation missiles, the Inspectorate is willing to obtain information regarding the options within the scope of suppressing the elements of air defence and anti-aircraft systems transmitting electromagnetic radiation, and regarding the possibility of guidance of the missiles, with the use of the source of the signal.
At the moment, the Polish F-16 jets have no anti-radiation missiles at their disposal, contrary to the fighters used by most of the NATO member states. Acquisition of such armament would greatly enhance the SEAD capabilities of the Polish F-16 units.
We know that Orbital ATK, in collaboration with the US Government, prepared an offer for the Polish Air Force, including the AGM-88E AAGRM anti-radiation missile. AGM-88F HARM missile, developed by Raytheon, may also be proposed within the dialogue mentioned above – such situation cannot be ruled out.
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The technological dialogue pertaining to a submunitions pod, with submunition automatically reacting to the detected targets, is aimed at obtaining the information related to possibilities within the scope of air-to-ground capabilities offered by such armament. This concerns. inter alia, the armoured targets. The submunition is expected to automatically react to the detected objects. We know that CBU-105 units, manufactured by Textron and employed by the United States Air Force, are integrated with the F-16 jets.
When it comes to a guided penetrating bomb, which is also a subject of the upcoming procurement, the Polish Air Force is willing to obtain capability of acting against fortified, underground targets, or targets that are using advanced armour, such as command posts, air defence sites, concrete bunkers, underground facilities or airfield infrastructure. Option of autonomous guidance system for the bombs and resistance to jamming and decoys are also being considered within that scope. The US Air Force units uses, within this area, the BLU-109 bomb units, along with JDAM guidance kits.
Moreover, all of the three above mentioned elements will be verified within the scope of being integrated with the F-16. Certificates needed by the armament to be carried by the Polish Jastrząb fighters will also undergo relevant scrutiny. Alternatively, the procedures required to obtain such certificates for the proposed products will also be checked (within the scope of time and location where the procedure is carried out).
The submissions of requests for being included in the market analysis will be accepted until 31st May 2016. Then, the Armament Inspectorate will create a feasibility study and initial Tactical-Technical Assumptions, pertaining to the weaponry. Should the technological dialogue end with a tender and procurement of the ordnance, this will mean that fire-power of the Polish F-16 jet is going to be greatly enhanced, following the simultaneous acquisition of the JASSM cruise missiles.