Warplanes: December 25, 2001


Air Force officials are still trying to determine why a JDAM bomb killed three American soldiers and several Afghan allies. While two possibilities (incorrect position coordinates entered, jammed fins on the guidance system) have been discussed, there are two others. Dropping a GPS-guided bomb into a deep valley can result in the weapon passing out of sight of GPS satellites, which causes the guidance system to stop trying to correct its impact point. The other possibility is that the weapon was aimed for a target high on a mountain, but that the elevation was not correctly calculated. When the bomb reached the three-dimensional coordinates for its target, there was nothing there but empty space and the guidance system froze. The bomb would then have continued its ballistic path and might have gone thousands of feet down the side of the mountain before impacting on the ground.--Stephen V Cole




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close