Laser JDAMs Join Inventory

The Air Force has taken delivery of the first laser-guidance kits for 500-pound GBU-38 joint direct attack munitions from Boeing, the company announced April 16. The new capability, which is expected to be operational both with the Air Force and Navy later this year, fills an urgent need request of combatant commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq for a precision weapon that can strike high-speed moving land targets. The Air Force is buying 600 LJDAM kits under a $28 million contract awarded in May 2007. The company completed first article acceptance testing of production units in March with drops from F-15E and F-16 fighters at the Navy’s test range at China Lake, Calif., Boeing said. The tests demonstrated the modified JDAM’s ability to destroy targets moving at up to 70 miles per hour, the company said. The Navy also initiated a Laser JDAM flight test program in March with multiple drops from an AV-8B Harrier against moving targets and plans to conduct test from an F/A-18 fighter. Boeing said it will deliver all of the kits by June 2009.