The British military has awarded a £24m contract to Raytheon Systems Limited for the integration and flight trials of the Paveway IV guided weapon onto the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

The Royal Air Force and Navy plan to use the autonomous weapon system, which will be fitted onto the Short Take-Off and Vertical (STOVL) version of the aircraft, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

UK-based RSL will provide documentation, input to the development of the aircraft systems and flight clearance of the weapon on to the aircraft. For the latter stage of the programme, RSL will try out, with the help of BAE Systems, and certify the technology.

Raytheon Missile Systems, based in Tucson, Arizona, will supply the Enhanced Computer Control Group (ECCGs) guidance sections, telemetry sub-systems, instrumentation, and test equipment for the programme.

According to Raytheon, the F-35B will be the first stealthy STOVL aircraft, with the ability to operate at supersonic speeds.

Other customers of the F-35B include the US Marine Corps and the Italian Navy.