American smart-bomb kits JDAM could be delivered to Ukraine – Technology Org

The U.S. is looking for ways to expand the assortment of armaments supplied to Ukraine through military aid. Smart-bomb conversion kits are among the considered options.

USAF F-16CJ with JDAM conversion kits mounted on regular bombs under wings. Image credit: U.S. Army, Public Domain

The latest proposal for future deliveries includes JDAM, or Joint Direct Attack Munition. These kits contain global positioning equipment that can be mounted on different kinds of missiles, bombs, and aircraft.

From a technological perspective, this is a very versatile and highly functional upgrade. It allows you to convert weapons to their high-precision versions, augmenting them with guidance equipment.

This way, unguided munitions – also known as “dumb bombs” – become “smart bombs”, capable of achieving high degrees of accuracy. In some cases, possible hit deviation from the target is just a few meters.

JDAM is not a stand-alone weapon. It needs to be installed on a regular munition. This kit contains a tail section with aerodynamic control surfaces, a body (strake) component, and a guidance unit consisting of combined inertial and GPS-based guidance modules.

2000 lbs GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) are transported to the flight deck of the aircraft carrier.

2000 lbs GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) are transported to the flight deck of the aircraft carrier. Image credit: US Navy, Public Domain

Regular JDAM modification allows a 500-2,000-pound bomb to reach flight distances of up to 15 nautical miles (28 km). The U.S. Army also has an extended-range JDAM version (JDAM-ER) which was first tested in 2006 and essentially triples the operational range of the base version (80 km / 50 miles).

JDAM can adjust the flight trajectory of the bomb throughout the entire trajectory range. The strike is delivered using optimal flight parameters, prioritizing high angles of attack to maximize the hit efficiency.

An essential aspect of JDAM is that this conversion kit can be used with Soviet-era fighter jets MiG-29, Su-25, Su-24 and Su-27, which are currently in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Ordnance handlers assemble Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs.

Ordnance handlers assemble Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs. Image credit: US Navy

Target coordinates can be pre-programmed while the control system is still on the ground. b still on the ground. This means that there is no need to modify the aircraft’s onboard electronic systems, because JDAM is mounted directly on munition, not on the plane itself.

Additionally, the JDAM kit can be supplemented with a laser homing head. Such kits have a separate designation LJDAM, where ‘L’ stands for ‘Laser’. Then, the bomb can be targeted not only from the carrier aircraft but also using drones or ground stations that are located close to the enemy units.

What about the price of JDAM?

A single conversion kit has an approximate price tag of $25 thousand. It is unknown if they would be compatible with older types of Soviet-era gravity munitions available in Ukraine.

There is a possibility that the U.S. will also supply aerial bombs, such as FAB-100, FAB-250 and FAB-500, or any other alternative models conforming to standard NATO dimensions and weight..

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