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A-10s Get The Laser Of Death
by James Dunnigan
December 4, 2008

Discussion Board on this DLS topic

The U.S. A-10C has successfully dropped its first JDAM (Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition). The main difference between JDAM and LJDAM is the sensor unit. The GPS sensor on JDAM is replaced with a laser seeker sensor, turning the JDAM into the LJDAM. The aircraft dropping the bomb uses its laser designator to track the moving target, and the LFDAM bomb hits the moving target. LJDAM can hit a vehicle moving at about 60 kilometers an hour. LJDAM entered service two years ago. It will be useful against enemy convoys of moving vehicles, since the smallest LJDAM uses a 500 pound bomb. A-10Cs will begin using LFDAM next year.

The A-10C began operating in Iraq and Afghanistan last year. This is a version of the A-10 with upgraded electronics. The A-10 can fly low and slow, and is designed, and armored, to survive lots of ground fire. The troops trust the A-10 more than the F-16, or any other aircraft used for supporting the ground troops. The new goodies for the A-10C equip the pilot with the same targeting and fire control gadgets the latest fighters have. The new A-10C cockpit has all the spiffy color displays and easy to use controls. The basic A-10 is a three decade old design, so the new stuff is quite spectacular in comparison. New commo gear is installed as well, allowing A-10 pilots to share pix and vids with troops on the ground. The A-10 can now use smart bombs, making it a do-it-all aircraft for troops support.

While newly equipped A-10s showed up last year, it will take four more years to upgrade all 350 aircraft in service. Beyond that, the air force is upgrading the engines and structures of the 1970s era aircraft. All the upgrades will cost about $13 million per aircraft. The air force has been trying to retire the ugly, and elderly, aircraft for over a decade. But the A-10s are just too damn effective, and popular, when there's actually a war on.

The A-10 could always take out moving vehicles with its 30mm automatic cannon. But this requires getting down and within a few hundred meters of the target. The LJDAM enables the A-10 to stay out of range of ground fire to do the job, and also deliver a bigger bang to the target.

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