Laser JDAM Joins the Afghan Fray

The Air Force has used the GBU-54 bomb for the first time in combat in Afghanistan. An F-16 deployed to Bagram Airfield from Aviano AB, Italy, recently dropped a GBU-54 during a combat sortie, according to Bagram officials. The GBU-54 is a 500-pound joint direct attack munition with the addition of a laser-guidance kit, giving it the name Laser JDAM. That addition allows the munition to strike moving targets precisely, just as it can accurately strike stationary objects via its GPS-aided guidance package. This weapon “allows the ground commander more flexibility to attack a variety of targets in a variety of environments and situations,” said Capt. Nick Ilchena, an Aviano F-16 pilot deployed to Bagram. The GBU-54 made its combat debut in August 2008 in Iraq. It was developed in 17 months to meet a combatant commander’s urgent operational need. (Bagram report by TSgt. Drew Nystrom)