Air Weapons: February 2, 2004

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The JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) was so successful in Afghanistan and Iraq that models with new capabilities are on the way. JDAM is basically a kit that is fitted to a regular bomb. This kit consists of small wings and fins with flaps, electric motors to move the flaps, batteries to run everything, a GPS (satellite based location device) receiver so the bomb will know where it is, and a microprocessor to do the calculations and operate the flaps to guide the bomb to where it's supposed to go. The two most likely new models to appear are the JDAM-ER and JDAM-L. The JDAM-ER (for extended range) would have larger fins, small wings actually, that would give the JDAM-ER a range of about 90 kilometers. Current JDAM can glide up to 30 kilometers. The JDAM-ER would be useful for hitting targets defended by guns and missiles, keeping the aircraft out of range of the missiles. The JDAM-L (for laser) would have a laser detector hooked up to its guidance system, so that a JDAM, or JDAM-ER would start looking for the reflected laser light when it went to a certain position, and then home on that. Laser guidance is more accurate than GPS, because the warhead goes right for a small spot where the laser light is hitting an object. This would be essential if you were trying to get at enemy troops holed up in a cave with a small entrance. Some targets, like bridges, require that key vertical supports be knocked out to bring the bridge down. Research so far indicates that JDAM-ER would work best with 500 pound bombs, which JDAM-L kits could be attached to 500, 1000 or 2000 pound bombs. Some twenty nations have bought, or are planning to buy, JDAM kits. 

 


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