The Air Force has completed developmental testing of the newest version of the laser-guided Maverick air-to-ground missile, paving the way for operational testing (OT), Raytheon [RTN] said yesterday.

The latest variant of the Maverick, or AGM-65 E2/L, offers new capabilities that include allowing the launch aircraft to use onboard laser designators to put the weapon on the target. Earlier Mavericks only permitted buddy-and ground-based laser targetting. It also has an enhanced laser seeker and new software that reduces the risk of collateral damage, Raytheon said.

“The joint testing community conducted a series of very demanding tests, including two where the missile contended with targets moving at 65 and 72 mph,” said Harry Schulte, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems’ Air Warfare Systems products. “As we begin OT, the warfighter will have an opportunity to put the new laser-guided Maverick through its paces, clearing the way for entry into the inventory of the U.S. and its international partners.”

The Air Force and Navy launched the Maverick A-10, F-16, AV-8B and F/A-18 aircraft during the recent round of testing. The Navy is expected to complete its testing this summer and refers to the Maverick as AGM-65 E2, Raytheon said.