IAF mulls purchase of new smart bomb

JDAM-ER would allow IDF jets to hit targets in Damascus, Beirut without leaving Israeli airspace.

JDAM ER jew IDf bomb 248 (photo credit: courtesy)
JDAM ER jew IDf bomb 248
(photo credit: courtesy)
The Israel Air Force is considering purchasing a new and advanced smart bomb with an extended range that would allow fighter jets to hit targets in Damascus and Beirut without leaving Israeli airspace, military sources told The Jerusalem Post. The smart bomb Israel is looking into is called the JDAM-ER (Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range) which is under development by Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force. The JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit produced by Boeing that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into precision guided "smart" weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail section that contains a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System and body improvements for additional stability and lift. The ER version of the JDAM consists of an additional set of wings that are installed on the bomb and extend its range from just 15 nautical miles to 55. The ER version would also be helpful in a long-range strike against Iranian nuclear facilities since it would assist IAF jets in avoiding anti-aircraft defense missiles by allowing pilots to fire bombs from an extended standoff position. Israel became the first foreign customer to purchase the standard JDAM system in 2000. The kits were then added on to Mk-84, 2,000-pound bombs, turning simple iron bombs into precision, satellite guided weapons. The IAF has also recently received new shipments of JDAMs that are capable of using a laser for guidance as well as the standard GPS. It has also purchased a JDAM that is protected against electronic jamming. In addition, the IAF recently completed an upgrade of its F-15 fleet to enable all models of the aircraft to carry JDAM bombs. Until now, only the F-15I was capable of carrying the smart-bomb. During the Second Lebanon War, the IAF exhausted its stockpile of JDAM bombs and received emergency shipments of thousands of kits from the United States. The aerial shipments caused an international uproar after one of the planes carrying the kits was routed through Glasgow's Prestwick Airport and reportedly did not fly according to safety and security procedures established by the British Civil Aviation Authority. JDAM-equipped bombs receive data on the kit's target while still attached to the warplane's computer. After the jet releases it, a satellite takes over and guides it to its target. This relieves the aircraft and crew from the need to remain in enemy territory to "ride the bomb down" to its target. The system's greatest benefit is its accuracy regardless of weather conditions, day or night. The JDAM-ER was successfully tested by the Australian air force. Kevin Holt, JDAM-ER program manager for Boeing, said after the test that the JDAM-ER would enter initial production in 2010. "By increasing range and accuracy, the delivery of the weapon will be more effective, allowing a single aircraft to engage multiple targets while the extended range increases the survivability of the aircrew and the aircraft launching the weapon," said Warren Snowdon, Australian minister for defense science and personnel.