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It looks like the Air Force got a new arrow in its quiver recently with the first employment in combat of the new Guided Bomb Unit 54 -- a hybrid Joint Direct Attack Munition/Laser Guided Bomb.

Seems that the Air Force issued an urgent need statement for a 500 lb. munition that could take out moving targets. Maybe the fighter jocks were getting jealous of their missile-wielding robot friends who seem to be the go-to platforms for such moving target engagements.

Officials in Iraq announced that on Aug. 12 (why could they not talk about this any sooner? Typical Air Force) F-16s had engaged a moving vehicle with the so-called LJDAM:

The GBU-54 is the U.S. Air Forces newest 500-pound precision weapon, equipped with a special targeting system that uses a combination of GPS and laser guidance to accurately engage and destroy moving targets.

On, Aug. 12, 2008, F-16s from the 77th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, successfully executed this combat first when the weapon was employed against a moving enemy vehicle in Diyala province, Iraq...

Identified as an urgent operational need in early 2007, the Air Force completed the GBU-54s development and testing cycle in less than 17 months, fielding it aboard 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing aircraft in May.

We have consistently used precision-guided weapons to engage stationary threats with superb combat effects, said Brig. Gen. Brian Bishop, 332nd AEW commander. This weapon allows our combat pilots to engage a broad range of moving targets with dramatically increased capabilities and it increases our ability to strike the enemy throughout a much, much broader engagement envelope...

"At end game, on Aug. 12, the team of the joint terminal attack controller, alongside his ground unit commander in this event, ensured all criteria were met for the first combat delivery of the LJDAM. And finally, our F-16 pilot accurately and precisely delivered and guided the weapon to desired weapons effects, the disabling and destruction of an enemy vehicle and personnel, Gen.North said.

All right, so ignore the retarded "cop speak" of the last paragraph (I mean, who says "ensured all criteria were met for combat delivery" -- just say "we lazed the target and said 'cleared hot!' ") -- this seems like a pretty interesting development and one that could improve the Air Force's ability to play in an urban fight. But my question is how expensive is it and what's the ROI compared to a hellfire shot by a Reaper? Again, it looks once more like the Air Force saw an "urgent need" to give its fighter jocks a job other than CAS orbits and "tron banging" for IEDs.

-- Christian

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