Weapon Systems

JDAM converts B-1B's free-fall bombs into lethal, precision guided munitions

2024-03-27

Modifying 'dumb' bombs with lethal precision guidance, the JDAM guidance kit has been the B1-B's ordnance of choice for more than two decades.

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US Air Force personnel prepare for a B-1B Lancer to take off from Guam, in support of a Bomber Task Force mission February 4, 2023. [US Air Force]
US Air Force personnel prepare for a B-1B Lancer to take off from Guam, in support of a Bomber Task Force mission February 4, 2023. [US Air Force]

Equipped with the largest weapon payload capacity in the US Air Force's inventory, the B1-B Lancer is enhanced by the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)'s unparalleled accuracy.

The B-1B, a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy bomber, is capable of carrying up to 34,000kg of ordnance in three internal weapon bays that can be loaded with a variety weapons, including the Mark 80-series bomb.

The Mark 82 (Mk82), the 226kg variant, is one of the most commonly used and can be converted into different variants such as the Quickstrike naval mine, the Guided Bomb Unit (GBU)-12 laser-guided bomb and the GBU-38 JDAM.

The JDAM is a guidance kit that converts unguided, free-fall bombs like the Mark class into "accurate, adverse-weather 'smart' munitions," according to the Air Force.

An assortment of 227kg and 907kg JDAMs are connected to a multiple ejector rack on a B-1B Lancer March 31, 2011. [US Air Force]
An assortment of 227kg and 907kg JDAMs are connected to a multiple ejector rack on a B-1B Lancer March 31, 2011. [US Air Force]

The JDAM's tail-control system and Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided inertial navigation system marry the potency of so-called "dumb," free-fall bombs with the lethal accuracy of guided weapons.

Once launched, the JDAM navigates the bomb to its target using either target coordinates manually entered prior to the aircraft's deployment or automatically entered with onboard aircraft sensors.

From there, it autonomously traverses from air to ground to its target.

With GPS activated, the JDAM can strike a target within a margin of error of five meters or less.

The B-1B's payload capacity enables it to carry a maximum of 84 227kg Mk82 bombs capable of being equipped with the JDAM guidance kit for a total weight of 19,000kg.

Beside the Mk82, the JDAM can be equipped on the 907kg BLU-109/Mk84 and the 454kg BLU-110/Mk83, all of which can be carried simultaneously by the B-1B to enable it to hit a variety of targets.

Overwhelming accuracy

In 1999, six B-1s took part in Operation Allied Force, the NATO aerial bombing campaign against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro at that time), delivering more than 20% of the total ordnance while flying fewer than 2% of the combat sorties.

Similarly, during the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom, eight B-1s dropped almost 40% of the total tonnage delivered by coalition air forces, including almost 3,900 JDAMs, or 67% of the total.

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the B-1B flew fewer than 1% of the combat missions while delivering 43% of the JDAMs used, according to the Air Force.

The B-1B and its JDAMs have continued to prove effective against Iran-allied groups intent on destabilizing the Middle East, including the Houthi rebels in Yemen and militia groups in Iraq and Syria.

Iran's inability to provide air defense to its proxies operating across the region has cemented the JDAM as the ordnance of choice.

As a flexible, highly accurate weapon that can be dropped from both low and high altitudes, the JDAM can degrade the offensive and defensive capabilities of adversaries from anywhere in the sky.

For example, B-1B Lancers on February 2 took off from the United States and took part in retaliatory strikes on dozens of targets linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and affiliated militia groups in Iraq and Syria.

The strikes came in response to a drone attack that killed three US soldiers and wounded dozens more at a remote base in Jordan on January 27.

The targeted facilities include command and control operation centers, intelligence centers, rockets, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) storage sites, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks on US and coalition forces, US Central Command said.

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2024-03-30

The weapons are directed at Egypt, o, idiots! They know that Russia and China are completely protecting Iran, and therefore, they can’t attack Iran. This is because Russia and China will destroy the US and Israeli weapons. As to Egypt, it’s all alone; it only has Allah. However, we have an army that is prepared to sacrifice the lives of its own soldiers so that Egypt may live.

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O, idiot. folly has no cure!

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