March 6, 2010:
The U.S. Navy has ordered 23 of the new U.S. LJDAM (Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions) for evaluation. This is the GPS JDAM system, with the more accurate laser guidance in addition to GPS. It's economical because the only difference between JDAM and LJDAM is the additional laser seeker. The navy expects the LJDAM to pass all its tests, and plans to order 11,000 of them, starting next year.
The only problem with LJDAM is that laser light can be blocked by rain or sand storms. However, laser guidance is more accurate (hitting within a meter or two of the target, compared to ten meters for JDAM) and able to hit moving targets. The navy will use LJDAM on its F-18 and F-35 fighter-bombers. LJDAM would be an ideal weapon going after multiple moving targets (such as convoys). Since the smallest JDAM uses a 500 pound bomb (containing 280 pounds of explosive), this provides far more bang than a Hellfire (which contains about ten pounds). The laser guided Hellfire is the preferred missile for attacking individual vehicles. But with LJDAM, even a near miss will be a kill. Last year, Israel ordered LJDAM, and two years ago, Germany became the first foreign buyer for LJDAM.