GBU-38 Makes Reaper Debut

An MQ-9 Reaper successfully completed its first drop of a GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition over the Nevada Test and Training Range at Nellis AFB, Nev., on May 1. The testing was performed by members of the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., and members of the 26th Weapons Squadron, stationed at Nellis. The MQ-9 has long deployed AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, but the testing of the GBU-38 expands the remotely piloted aircraft arsenal to include GPS-guided munitions for the first time. GPS guidance enables weapons to perform better in poor weather conditions. GBU-38 also loads one-third faster than the GBU-12. “The overall impact of the GBU-38 is aircrew will have more versatility for the commanders to provide different effects and make a difference for the guys on the ground,” said a 26th Weapons Squadron weapons instructor pilot, according to a press release. “It has a different guidance system and it opens the bridge to more GPS-guided weapons in the future.”