TUCSON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Raytheon said Thursday the U.S. Air Force may re-launch production of its Maverick air-to-surface missile.
The renewed interest in the laser-guided Maverick is in response to the Air Force's "urgent operational need for a close air support weapon to defeat high-speed moving targets with minimal collateral damage," Raytheon said in a statement.
"The laser-guided AGM-65E Maverick missile is an air-to-ground weapon that can meet the service's needs in the near term," the company said.
"The Air Force currently operates with television- and infrared-guided versions of Maverick. Until now, only the Navy and Marine Corps have employed the laser-guided version," Raytheon said.
"The laser-guided Maverick has a combat-proven record of effectiveness and reliability against armored and moving surface targets in scenarios involving urban environments and during close air support missions," it said.
"Maverick missiles constitute a key capability required for use in the modern battle space," said Harry Schulte, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of the Strike product line. "Maverick has proved itself over many years of service to be a very versatile weapon system, and the newest laser version will significantly enhance the Air Force's precision capability required to save lives in close combat and quick-reaction situations.
"To get that capability on Air Force aircraft in short order, the Navy has agreed to transfer some of its inventory of laser-guided Mavericks to the Air Force," Schulte said.
Raytheon described the Maverick as "a precision air-to-ground missile that has multiple warhead and seeker variants and is used against moving or stationary small or hard targets; armored vehicles; surface-to-air missile sites; and high-value targets such as ships, port facilities and communications centers."
"The missile has launch-and-leave capability that enables a pilot to fire it and immediately take evasive action or attack another target as the missile guides to the target," the company said.
Most recent versions included scene magnification optics; modern charge-coupled-device television technology; and improved software, infrared and laser seekers, the company said.