Air Weapons: JDAM Glides Away


March 30, 2007: The JDAM (GPS guided smart bomb) now has a new set of wings, developed by an Australian firm, that gives the unpowered bomb a range of over 70 kilometers. The original JDAM, developed a decade ago, had a glide range of about eleven kilometers. In 2000, an Italian firm developed a JDAM kit with set of small wings added. This extended JDAM range to about 40 kilometers. The new kit extends the glide range even more, without increasing the cost of the JDAM kit (currently about $20,000) by more than about ten percent. Both of the longer range JDAMs are called JDAM ER (for Extended Range.)

This longer range is not always needed, or wanted, because it takes the bomb several more minutes to reach the target. If there are friendly troops involved, they usually want the JDAM to land sooner, rather than later. Thus JDAM ER is used mainly for attacking heavily defended (by anti-aircraft missiles) targets.




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