Known as the “Warfighter’s Weapon of Choice,” the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a low-cost guidance kit produced by Boeing that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided, near-precision “smart” weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail section that contains a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System and body strakes for additional stability and lift.
Because of its modular design, the JDAM family of weapons includes affordable add-on options to increase the warfighter’s flexibility and reach. A Laser JDAM sensor allows JDAM precise prosecution of moving, relocatable and maritime targets. JDAM Extended Range (JDAM ER) incorporates a low-cost wing set to extend JDAM’s standoff range to greater than 40 miles.
The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and more than 26 international customers employ JDAM. Its first operational use was during Operation Allied Force in the Balkans in 1999. JDAM has been used extensively in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and most recently in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya.
Currently, MK-84 2,000-pound and BLU-109 2,000-pound (900-kg) bombs (GBU-31); MK-83 bombs (GBU-32); and MK-82 500-pound (225-kg) bombs (GBU-38) are in production to make the cost-effective JDAM. When employed, these weapons have proven highly accurate and can be delivered in any flyable weather. JDAM can be launched from more than 15 miles from the target with updates from GPS satellites to help guide the weapon to the target.
The JDAM production team includes Honeywell Inc. (inertial measurement unit); Rockwell Collins (global positioning system receiver); HR Textron (tail actuator subsystem); Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems (mission computer); Lockely (tail fairing); Enser and Eagle-Picher (battery); and Stremel (strakes and cable cover).
The full-scale production decision for JDAM was made by the U.S. Department of Defense in March 2001. On average, more than 700 JDAMs are delivered every month. In November 2004, Boeing delivered the 100,000th JDAM, and in September 2008 the 200,000th JDAM was delivered. In 2011, the U.S. Air Force announced contract awards totaling $180 million for nearly 7,500 Lot 15 JDAM tail kits.
Since JDAM production started in 1998, Boeing has built more than 238,000 tail kits – all of which have been delivered on time and at cost.