Air Platforms

Israel orders upgraded JDAM kits

25 November 2014

A US weapons loader prepares a GBU-31 JDAM for a mission. Israel has ordered upgraded tail-kits to enhance the accuracy of its stocks of GBU-31 and GBU-38 JDAMs. (US Air Force)

Israel is to receive 3,000 upgraded Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail-kits under a USD82.6 million contract announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 24 November.

The contract will see Boeing deliver the tail-kits that have been upgraded with the ultra-tightly coupled (UTC) capability to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) by 30 November 2016. According to the DoD, this is a contract modification to a USD307.5 million award made to Boeing in October for baseline JDAM tail-kits for Morocco, Norway, and the United Arab Emirates.

The UTC-upgraded kits take into account the data from the bomb's inertial navigation system (INS) to track both the host aircraft and the targets speed, acceleration, and direction so as to dramatically improve the accuracy of the GPS timing signals. The combination is sometimes referred to as UTC INS/GPS and makes for an altogether more accurate JDAM than the baseline version.

Israel received approval for its first batch of 700 JDAMs to equip the IAF's Boeing F-15I Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16I Fighting Falcon combat aircraft in 1999. Early-model F-15s have been upgraded to carry the JDAM also. In 2012 Israel requested a further 10,350 INS/GPS munitions, which included 3,450 GBU-31 2,000 lb Mk 84 general-purpose warheads; 1,725 GBU-31 2,000 lb BLU-109 penetrator warheads; and 1,725 GBU-38 500 lb Mk 82 general-purpose warhead JDAMs.

As current stock levels have not been disclosed, it is not possible to ascertain what proportion of the remaining inventory is covered in this order for 3,000 tail-kits.

The JDAM is essentially a low-cost guidance kit that, aided by a combined INS/GPS guidance system, converts free-fall bombs into precision-guided smart weapons that can be released at stand-off ranges from the target. First used in 1999, the JDAM is in use with nearly 30 operators, including all the branches of the US military.

Copyright © IHS Global Limited, 2014

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