Air Weapons: November 17, 2004


In October, 2004, American fighter bombers, having had their fire control software modified to allow for the use of the 500 pound JDAM (GPS guided) smart bomb, began using the smaller bomb in Iraq. Air Force F-16s and Navy F-18s were the first aircraft to drop the smaller smart bomb. The air force is modifying software and hardware on its B-2 bombers to enable them to carry 80 of the 500 pound JDAMs. B-1 bombers will be able to carry 84 of the bombs, and B-52s about the same number. F-16s and F-18s can carry about a dozen of the 500 pound bombs, versus four of the older 2,000 pound bombs. This enables the aircraft to hit more targets in one mission. 

The 500 pound JDAM is favored for combat in urban areas, because it is less likely to injure nearby civilians, and friendly troops can be closer to the target when the bomb goes off. For the older 2,000 pound JDAM, troops had to be at least 500 meters away when the bomb went off. With the 500 pound bomb, troops can get as close as a hundred meters, which shortens the time it takes to get to the target area to deal with any surviving enemy troops, or simply to make sure other enemy troops dont move back into the rubble.


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