Boeing is developing an engine-equipped version of its Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), called Powered JDAM, as a low-cost alternative to cruise missiles, Airforcemag reported citing company officials.
The new weapon was showcased at the recently concluded Air Force Association (AFA) Air Warfare Symposium (AWS) in Orlando, Florida.
The officials said that adding a small jet turbine engine will extend the range of the conventional glide version of the JDAM by 20 times. Boeing is claiming that even though the Powered JDAM will cost more than a standard JDAM, it will still have a fraction of the cost of competitive weapons with a similar range, such as cruise missiles.
According to the report, the new weapon combines a 500-pound warhead, a wing kit, and a propulsion module into the same form factor as a 2,000-pound bomb. The weapon can be used as a lower-cost alternative to air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) for stand-off attack, adapting a conventional bomb for attacking targets in a contested battlespace.
“The objective of powered JDAM is to take the proven JDAM and make that effective in anti-access, area denial environments, so it has the range to stand outside of that engagement zone,” Wade Kirkbride, a senior marketing representative for the company was quoted as saying in the report.
The JDAM is a “bolt-on” guidance kit (not a stand-alone weapon) that converts unguided bombs, or “dumb bombs”, into all-weather precision-guided munitions (PGMs), also called smart bombs or glide bombs.
The key components of the JDAM system consist of a tail section with aerodynamic control surfaces, a (body) strake kit, and a combined inertial guidance system and GPS guidance control unit. JDAM-equipped bombs range from 500 pounds (227 kg) to 2,000 pounds (907 kg).
JDAMs are guided by an integrated inertial guidance system coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, giving them a published range of up to 15 nautical miles (28 km). There is also a JDAM variant equipped with a laser seeker, called Laser JDAM (LJDAM), which gives the munition the ability to engage moving targets.
Boeing has sold more than 430,000 JDAMs to date. JDAMs have been extensively combat-proven by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines and international customers.