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Boeing JDAM-ER munition completes first round of tests

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September 4, 2012

Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) precision bomb kit (Image: ...

Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) precision bomb kit (Image: Boeing)

Boeing has completed the first round of tests of the latest variant of its precision bomb kit, the Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER). Developed in partnership with the Australian government, the winged bomb kit finished its first wind tunnel tests in the United States and is one step closer to production and entering service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

If you watch old newsreels of Second World War bombing raids, they usually include planes dropping bombs by the bushel. The irony is that most of the time all those explosives aren’t being dropped to destroy everything in sight, but in hopes of hitting anything at all. That’s because the bombs in those grainy black and white films were “dumb” bombs that fell wherever gravity and the wind carried them. No matter how good the bombsight used to put them on target, hitting it was largely a matter of luck.

During the Cold War, that began to change with the introduction of guided bombs using television cameras, lasers, radio control and other devices. They were an improvement, but they were also incredibly expensive and temperamental, so up until the Gulf War in 1991 most bombs were still dumb.

After the Gulf War, the American Pentagon realized that it needed an air-to-surface weapon that could work in all conditions. Over the next decade, US defense contractors worked to fill this gap and the result was the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) now manufactured by Boeing. This wasn’t a new weapon, but a way of giving dumb bombs more intelligence. It’s a kit that is bolted on to standard bombs. Using guiding fins and a GPS-aided inertial navigation system, a JDAM-equipped bomb can land within 13 meters (42.65 ft) of its target. Since it’s a retrofit, it’s also relatively cheap at US$27,000 a unit. So far, 238,000 tail kits have been made and it’s used by 26 countries.

Boeing’s JDAM-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) is the latest variant. It is intended for use on the RAAF’s 500-pound (226.79 kg) bombs and will be built in Australia. It differs from the standard JDAM in that is has wings that unfold in flight to triple the range from 15 nautical miles (17.26 mi, 28 km) to over 40 miles (64.73 km). The modular nature of the kit means that it can be easily upgraded as technology improves and options such as improved laser sensors, GPS jamming immunity and an all-weather radar sensor can be added.

"By successfully transitioning this technology from prototype to production, the Australian Defence Force will be able to further reduce the risk to its personnel on operations, allowing RAAF aircrew to engage their targets from beyond the range of enemy air defences," said Jason Clare, Australia’s Minister for Defence Materiel. "These enhancements will increase the ability of the RAAF to strike more targets in fewer sorties."

The first JDAM-ER kits are scheduled for delivery in early 2015.

Source: Boeing

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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5 Comments

The first guided bombs (non-piloted) were used in WWII; they were flown to their target by radio control from the bomber.

Pikeman
4th September, 2012 @ 10:17 pm PDT

Are we to believe that this bolt on device allows the bomb to glide 40 miles?

WW2 bombing was known as carpet bombing, hoping that you would at least hit the target with some of the bombs, or when attacking cities, every bomb hit something.

windykites1
5th September, 2012 @ 06:52 am PDT

Oh yah, it is actually a cumulation of a long line of historical development in human's means of war....

Indeed, I think the JDAM is more practical than the much publicized and idealized Drones or UAVs.

It is more economical and subject to more precise human control and inputs almost up to the last moment of impact. It is rather unlikely that a very clever Iranian scientist could have void it via something like spooking to an expensive stealth drone...

I'd not be surprised if the Western allies would have developed their own versions of JDAM soon and the Russians, the Japanese or even the Chinese and South Africans...

But somehow the USA will still holding the upper hand and having the edge in fine engineering of small size machanery for the very near future...

Also, I'd not be surprised that the JDAM will be the star in the next war. Just hope it would not come. At least not coming for the wrong reason in the wrong place against the wrong person.

William Wong
5th September, 2012 @ 10:06 am PDT

Miniaturized television cameras were first brought out in 1939 in Germany, and were eventually & successfully employed in guiding gliding bombs and powered bombs and tinkered with in ground to air rockets.

In 1936 the Olympics were broadcast and watched in Germany on Fernseh TV sets of 48 inch x 42 inch screens, at 180 lines in public viewing areas. About 76 Light Years into space... I Love Lucy, follows...

lwesson
5th September, 2012 @ 10:21 am PDT

What a crack up. No sooner will we have this and before you know it the Airforce will be looking to get the next generation GBU fitted for its first squadron of F35s. This is good for Australian Airforces F18 Superhornets though. Its not a very large Airforce though, and the F18 Hornets and Super Hornet Squadrons seem to be the only units these will be fitted to. So why do we need to produce them here in Australia? If we do end up with 100 F35's given its radar evading capability it will be a good thing to have our own indigenous bombs. Nice.

Spriscilla the Queen of the Ocean
12th September, 2012 @ 11:26 pm PDT
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