SAINT LOUIS, Mo. -- What's better than a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) capable of flying 15 nautical miles to destroy a moving target? Why a JDAM capable of flying 45 nautical miles to reign down death and destruction on some bad guys fleeing in a pickup truck (or tank). The engineers at Boeing -- and an unnamed U.S. ally -- think so too and are developing a wing kit for the 500-pound and 2,000-pound version of the bombs (shown above) that will triple the effective range of the famous GPS and laser-guided bombs, Boeing officials told DT during a June 7 briefing at the company's facility here.
The company has already tested the 50-pound wing kit in a wind tunnel and will do the same with the 2,000-pound version later this year. The wing kit can be added to JDAMs in the field, giving aircraft the ability to hit targets while flying a safe distance away. (The bomb would even fly dozens of miles behind the plane after launch to strike targets the jet had already streaked past. If this isnt enough, Boeing is considering developing a engine engine plug that could be insterted between the JDAM's guidance fins and the body of the bomb.
For anyone who isn't familiar with the JDAM, it's basically a kit consisting of a GPS receiver and steering fins that is strapped onto a conventional bomb in under ten minutes turning it into a smart bomb. Boeing has even developed a laser seeker that can be screwed into the bombs nose and can update the weapons GPS receiver 20 times a second while tracking a moving target. This means that even when a truck is moving at "highway speeds" the bomb can lock-on and destroy it.
While the U.S. isn't officially involved with the development of the JDAM-ER (extended range), company officials assured DT that big blue would love to sell it to the Pentagon as a low-cost, high-capability weapon.
Boeing officials wouldn't reveal international customer that they are building the weapon in partnership with (the foreign country apparently designed the initial wing kit, Boeing is tweaking the design). However, a quick Google search turns up a 2006 press release from the Australian defence department discussing a JDAM wing kit capable of extending the weapon's range by a "significant" amount. Boeing again refused to say if the Aussie's are the partner country.