Friday, April 30, 2010

Innovation at Work: Developing and Launching the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile

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blog post photo
During my tenure in the defense industry, I’ve learned that innovation is more than just a bright idea or a good-looking briefing. Innovation is what happens when people take a critical look at a good idea, invest a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears to refine the idea, build it out, and ultimately test it in the crucible of the real world. 
A perfect example of innovation at work is the Raytheon-Boeing solution to the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile competition.  
The JAGM program requires competitors to build and deliver real hardware prior to the program downselect. Fortunately for Raytheon, and our partner Boeing, this type of innovative approach to meeting customer requirements is in our corporate DNA.
We approached the challenge by treating JAGM as an integration program, designing the weapon so it could be easily and quickly integrated on six aircraft. We also leveraged cutting-edge technology from proven programs to build a state-of-the-art tri-mode seeker, rocket motor, body and warhead. By using existing technology as a launching pad and designing for integration, not only do we improve the reliability of the weapon, but we keep down JAGM’s total life cycle cost.  
Raytheon and Boeing built the hardware out, but because the proof is in the pudding, we conducted a number of captive carry tests on the JAGM tri-mode seeker. This verified that our uncooled imaging infrared design performs the way it’s supposed to and proved that we could do what we said we could.
For the innovative Raytheon-Boeing JAGM team, just doing the minimum amount of testing wasn’t good enough. That’s why Raytheon and Boeing funded a series of guided test shots of the JAGM.

We just completed our first test shot April 2. I’m proud to say it was extremely successful, proving that our JAGM’s design philosophy works.  
At the end of the day, that’s what innovation is all about –– demonstrating that your good idea works in the real world.

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