Procurement: More JSOW

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February 3, 2006: The U.S. Department of Defense has ordered another 420 AGM-154C JSOW missiles. The JSOW (Joint Stand Off Weapon) is basically a smart bomb with wings. That enables it to glide up to 70 kilometers from the aircraft dropping it, to a target on the ground. Range is about 25 kilometers if dropped from low altitude. JSOW also contains more elaborate fins and software, that enables it to follow a specific route. Like the wingless JDAM smart bomb, JSOW uses GPS and inertial guidance (as a backup) to find its target. Like JDAM, JSOW will hit within 30 feet of its aiming point. Ultimately, the Department of Defense wants to buy 11,800 AGM-154A versions, which carries 145 bomblets that attack personnel and vehicles. Also wanted are 4,200 of the AGM-154B bought, each containing six SADARM bomblets that seek out and destroy armored vehicles in an area 300 by 600 meters. This one costs $490,000 each. The AGM-154C carries 794 pound warhead that can penetrate concrete or earth and detonate the high explosives it carries. Plans are to buy 7,800 of them. This model contains a video link that allows for hitting very small targets (like going through a window) and costs $720,000 each. Each JSOW weighs 1,100-1,500 pounds, depending on type.

Not a lot of JSOWs have been bought because there is not a lot of demand for them. The purpose of a stand off weapon is to keep the aircraft away from enemy anti-aircraft defenses (mainly missiles.) Some JSOW have been used in Iraq (between 1999 and 2003) and Afghanistan (2001.) But in most cases, the much cheaper JDAM (about $20,000 each) does the job just as well. But against a better equipped foe, like China, Syria, Iran or North Korea, JSOW would be more useful.

 


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