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​Britain Knows How to Increase the Range of Paveway IV if Those Are Supplied to Ukraine

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Paveway IV next to a Eurofighter Typhoon / Photo credit: UK Royal Air Force
Paveway IV next to a Eurofighter Typhoon / Photo credit: UK Royal Air Force

The need to approach the target is what makes Paveway IV bombs impractical in Ukrainian war conditions but there are ways to address this issue

Upon yesterday's message from a BBC journalist Jonathan Beale that the United Kingdom was planning to supply Paveway IV smart air bombs to Ukraine, Defense Express pointed out that even if it were true, the weapon has too low a range to be safely used by attack aviation.

The War Zone also looked into the topic, and the journalists' observations can offer a broader perspective on this possible supply.

Read more: Capabilities of the Paveway IV Bombs Britain is Allegedly Planning to Supply Ukraine
Paveway IV bombs lined up to be loaded into RAF Tornado GR4 fighters / Defense Express / Britain Knows How to Increase the Range of Paveway IV if those are Supplied to Ukraine
Illustrative photo: Paveway IV bombs lined up to be loaded into RAF Tornado GR4 fighters / Photo credit: UK Ministry of Defense

Firstly, TWZ inquired the British Ministry of Defense about the possibility of this provision, an anonymous official confirmed that Paveway IV bombs were "included in the package of 1,600 munitions that was announced by the Prime Minister for Ukraine this week," as quoted; but the Defense Ministry refused to share any details offially for now.

Next onto the challenging parts. As for the limited range, for a reminder, Paveway IV bombs provide high-precision guidance but cannot be dropped from a distance, the flaw can be fatal to the aircraft trying to approach areas with almost total air defense coverage, such as in Ukraine.

But it turns out there's already an existing solution. A few years ago, the UK military was looking into the prospect of procuring LongShot glide kits from Lockheed Martin that increase the length of free flight. TWZ journalists assume this equipment could be applied to the munitions prior to sending them to the Ukrainian forces.

The LongShot kit. Excerpt from a presentation by Lockheed Martin / Defense Express / Britain Knows How to Increase the Range of Paveway IV if those are Supplied to Ukraine
The LongShot kit. Excerpt from a presentation by Lockheed Martin

A bit more difficult might be the task of adapting the Ukrainian aircraft to carry and launch these bombs, regardless of whether they get the wing kits or not. To begin with, the UK Royal Air Force itself can only deploy Paveways from F-35B and Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 fighters.

UK Royal Air Force Typhoon drops a Paveway IV bomb / Defense Express / Britain Knows How to Increase the Range of Paveway IV if those are Supplied to Ukraine
UK Royal Air Force Typhoon drops a Paveway IV bomb / Illustrative photo credit: UK Ministry of Defense

On the bright side, integrating the equipment for alternative aircraft models should not be difficult in light of the fact Qatar and Saudi Arabia used to buy Paveway IV for their respective Air Forces, lacking those particular types of multirole fighters.

The War Zone expects that Paveway IV would be adapted foremostly to F-16 fighters Ukraine is about to receive from Denmark, as they used to wield a similar weapon called GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II. Another possibility is that even the Soviet-type aircraft would be configured with the same type of technological solutions earlier implemented to make them capable of launching JDAM-ER and AASM Hammer precision-guided stand-off bombs.

Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 with French AASM Hammer-250, Spring 2024 / Defense Express / Britain Knows How to Increase the Range of Paveway IV if those are Supplied to Ukraine
Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 with French AASM Hammer-250, Spring 2024 / Photo: TyskNIP
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