Boeing Developing JDAM Wing Kits, Tripling Range

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. — What’s better than a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) capable of flying 15 nautical miles to destroy a moving target? Why a JDAM capable of flying 45 nautical miles to reign down death and destruction on some bad guys fleeing in a pickup truck (or tank). The engineers at Boeing — and an unnamed U.S. ally — think so too and are developing a wing kit for the 500-pound and 2,000-pound version of the bombs (shown above) that will triple the effective range of the famous GPS and laser-guided bombs, Boeing officials told DT during a June 7 briefing at the company’s facility here.

The company has already tested the 50-pound wing kit in a wind tunnel and will do the same with the 2,000-pound version later this year. The wing kit can be added to JDAMs in the field, giving aircraft the ability to hit targets while flying a safe distance away. (The bomb would even fly dozens of miles behind the plane after launch to strike targets the jet had already streaked past. If this isnt enough, Boeing is considering developing a engine engine plug that could be insterted between the JDAM’s guidance fins and the body of the bomb.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the JDAM, it’s basically a kit consisting of a GPS receiver and steering fins that is strapped onto a conventional bomb in under ten minutes turning it into a smart bomb. Boeing has even developed a laser seeker that can be screwed into the bombs nose and can update the weapons GPS receiver 20 times a second while tracking a moving target. This means that even when a truck is moving at “highway speeds” the bomb can lock-on and destroy it.

While the U.S. isn’t officially involved with the development of the JDAM-ER (extended range), company officials assured DT that big blue would love to sell it to the Pentagon as a low-cost, high-capability weapon.

Boeing officials wouldn’t reveal international customer that they are building the weapon in partnership with (the foreign country apparently designed the initial wing kit, Boeing is tweaking the design). However, a quick Google search turns up a 2006 press release from the Australian defence department discussing a JDAM wing kit capable of extending the weapon’s range by a “significant” amount. Boeing again refused to say if the Aussie’s are the partner country.

  • Black Owl

    YES! Turning ordinary bombs into gliding guided munitions is an excellent and effective way to provide high capability at a low cost!

    • Musson

      And, from 45 miles – you don’t need a penetrating bomber. You need an reliable aircraft with long range, high loitering time and a big payload capability. You just need someone to carry the mail.

  • Paul

    death and destruction REIGNS!

    • Paul

      of course I was talking towards the author in regards to aforementioned word usage, not glorifying the human condition of death and destruction.

  • tiger

    If only the 8th AF had JADAM’s? A lot of men would not have had to die in a flaming bomber.

    • miles

      Are you referring to the time before smart bombs became common?

      • tiger


      • ghostwhowalksnz

        Well the germans had glide bombs in production during the war.
        WHat is your definition of common- when the US gets it ?

    • Thanatos

      Or maybethose JDAM carrying B-17s would have been shot down by MEADS and a lot of civilians would not have been burnt or asphyxiated in destroyed cities. Shrug.

  • Belesari

    Maybe we need a large long range long loiter tie turboprop bomber to just sit above a target and crop when called. Hell it could have a 80nm range.

    Hell maybe a airship lol.

    • Belesari

      Apparently people still hate props here. OH yea its not sexy enough.

      • Technoweapon

        No. We just hate slow.

        • blight_

          And vulnerable.

          The same SAMs that could probably nail a blackbird or a U-2 would do even better against an airship.

          As for the turboprop, it may make sense in occupation missions where the enemy is unlikely to sortie to shoot them down, but how often are we going to step on that punji stick?

          • Zak

            In any case the 40mile range comes from being dropped at high transonic speeds as much as anything.


    doesn’t matter. glide bombs are only good against primitive foes. C-RAM would shoot these down before they could reach a modern mechanized force.

    • STemplar

      Sure, because we wouldn’t think to use any EW capability in concert with them and jam the enemy’s radar.

      • EW3

        Suspect we could stuff some EW gear into an “empty” bomb and let it mess with the enemy radars. If we put say 20 EW bombs on a B-2 we could really play with the enemy’s mind ;) And still have 60 500 pounders to ruin their day.

        • blight_

          One day we’ll throw down enough SDBs that we can adopt a penaid/EW decoy strategy.

          • EW3

            How about a Tomahawk doing sigint/elint/ECM on it’s way to target. The block IV has the necessary communications link and ability to loiter. Besides a 1000 lb explosive charge is more then needed in many cases.

  • Nick

    Need to make one that can operate without GPS, any potential enemy worth worrying about will have anti-satellite weaponry. Perhaps something like a cruise missiles terrain following radar

    • JJanson

      Sounds expensive, which is what they seem to want to avoid.

    • STemplar

      So by your logic if the enemy has body armor we shouldn’t buy bullets.

      • Guest

        Certainly wouldnt want to buy bullets that wouldnt penetrate the body armor…just sayin.

  • Vok

    Glide bomb is too slow. A decent C-RAM can shoot it out of sky long before it reaches the intended target. Its usefulness is limited to combating a foe with non-existent air defense. GPS guidance is another Achilles heel. Try use it against the Chinese and you will find it out how “effective” it can be.

    • STemplar

      Do people think we are going to just be dropping glide bombs? Really? Growlers maybe? A few dozen MALDs to confuse the S out of air defenses? How many redundant OTH systems are being developed and deployed have we read about on this site over the last year?

      • NathanS

        Exactly. If you use the same technique over and over, then expect the enemy to counter it. But if you vary your attacks, then the enemy doesn’t know what to expect.

        Lets take GPS jamming for example – this emits a huge amount of electromagnetic radiation, and is basically an neon sign saying “BOMB ME” for a HARM missile. It’s exceedingly easy to counter.

        And even without the extra redundancy in the GPS system, it’s no biggy – you still have a cost-effective laser guided bomb with an extended range. A worthy tool for any arsenal.

    • Nick T.

      If C-RAMs are such a worry why hasn’t the US developed armored bombs yet? Also, if these cost as little as is implied, why not drop 5-20 on the target at one time? C-RAMs as I understand work tow ways: use absurd amounts of of ammo in a “well if we fire 300 bullets at it one or more have to hit it eventually” mentality, or usually no more than (about) 12 rather expensive high accuracy misslies. Either way, it will run out of ammo before the US runs out of bombs.

      • ghostwhowalksnz

        armoured bombs ? really ?
        How do you armour the wing kit ?

    • custermuster

      How effective are C-RAMs against cluster bombs?

    • Technoweapon

      Lol. People thinking we’re going to war with China.

      Give me a break.

    • blight_

      If they wanted to be crazy, one could design a low RCS casing, either with RAM or a covering with low RCS?

    • Tom

      How many of the US’s potential opponents currently have a single C-RAM operational? How many does Iran have? How many does North Korea have?

    • STemplar

      Couple other points here to the C-RAM crowd, to my knowledge that is a fairly bulky system set up for fixed area defense. Nothing like that for a moving formation. In regards to moving formations also. The allure of JDAM has been in our urban COIN ops for the GWOT. In a war time scenario with China just how accurate do you think we need to be with weapons used on mechanized formations? A half dozen 2000 lbs-ers can cause lethal fragmentation to personnel and thin skinned vehicles over a grid square, and we have more than 6 we could drop at once…

      • Technoweapon

        STemplar, I swear… I want to have your babies.

  • @E_L_P

    Not especially new.Just that DOD will now spend some money to deploy this capability with U.S. Forces. Way…way back when Boeing, LM and others were competing to get the contract to what is today called JDAM…(remember early INS/GPS assistant bomb kits for the B-2 were “GAM’s” by NG. …) anyway, DOD tested all kinds of associated JDAM tech, different terminal seekers like DAMASK (now fielded today has HART-JDAM with the USN) and wing kits. Wing kits on JDAM-like weapons flew many years ago. …Paying for capability only you need….the US up to recently has only fielded the basic JDAM (and now laser terminal seekers…. and of course HART-JDAM)….. That other government you mention in the article is either Australia (deHavilland) see this link or Korea…see this link… Australia has already fielded JDAM-ER for 500 pounders for their legacy Hornets; associated with their defence program called AIR-5425 I think…A photo here. For some target scenarios, JDAM-ER competes with the much more expensive JSOW. So against legacy air defenses, legacy aircraft can do a whole…”I can touch you but you can’t touch me” scenario where with no fancy laser seeker… ( DAMASK or HART/JDAM seeker…). JDAM INS/GPS only… in one pass you can hit a lot of fixed and known targets from 30 or more miles away.

  • STemplar

    I’d like to know the range boost from this plug in engine.

    • Technoweapon

      I’ll look into it and post if I find anything.

  • Josh

    I love how theres finally a low cost advanced weapons system, aka good news and people begin to bash its effectiveness and use against “an actual enemy”. Its not like china or iran has flying robots equipped with laser guns and bla bla bla. Stop jumping the gun and doubting our ability jesus lol.

    • Technoweapon


      But what is the point of posting if we’re not going to show our yellow hides and bark at the eViL China and Iran?

      As if Iran and China are of any threat today. China is one step away from being an ally, for crying out loud. And Iran might put some mines in the water, oh noes!

      Oh, wait… Iran is getting the bomb! Lol. It’ll be cute like the NK one. Or maybe they’ll use it on Israel. The price of glass will go down after Israel replies and turns Iran into a windshield.

      Give me a break, gentlemen. We Americans have a history of avoiding armageddon.

      • Nick T.

        People dispute a lot of things about this country. I think it’s safe to say that we were one of the luckiest countries in that age, though.

  • mpower6428

    GPS guided bombs depended on… GPS satilites.

    they’re a luxury folks, an effective one to be sure but, if the fudge hits the fan they’ll be WW2 style dumb bombs once again.

    • STemplar

      People tend to think that the GPS system just automatically disappears if Beijing wills it. For starters their one shoot down of a satellite was one of their weather satellites at a height of 537 miles above sea level. GPS satellites orbit at about 12500 miles above sea level, they aren’t going to shoot them down.

      They might try and jam signals in localized areas, but it isn’t like we are just lying down on that and not developing secure signal transmission and reception research. In addition anything that is spewing out enough energy to jam GPS signals in a significant area is electromagnetically lighting itself up like a road flare in a dark room. That subjects it to being targeted with other weapons.

      Also any jamming done requires a lot of power. In fixed locations its possible to affect a pretty large area but in a moving formation not so much. To say nothing of the fact that you may hide your precise location from targeting, but it’s easy enough to drop cluster munitions on the blank spots. Couple that with pesky little drones, JSTARs and such and GPS jamming doesn’t do an enemy alot of good, even if they can do it over a practical sized area.

      • Technoweapon

        Thaaank you. I always have to keep in mind that the majority of posters here are from the Vietnam days.

        Even if you pulled off the downing of a GPS sat there are a dozen more to fall back on. The only thing that I can think of to really put the hurt on our tech would be an EMP sat. And that’s still science fiction, as far as I know.

        • ben

          high altitude nuclear device in the megaton range would do the trick quite well for disrupting the GPS on a contintental scale.

          Even if the satellites themselves are hardened sufficiently to survive, the ionosphere would be saturated with high energy particles for a time. This would reflect most of the transmissions from the satellites back into space, effectively blinding every receiver beneath the area of effect.

          At best you would still be receiving signals from satellites low near the horizon, but those would be more vulnerable to getting shadowed by local geology, and would be weaker due to the greater distance.

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            Setting off a nuke, even an orbital one, is something I firmly believe China (and Russia, and India, and Pakistan, and the US, and Japan, and…..) would very much want to avoid during an all-out conflict.

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen

          • STemplar

            You don’t think that tactic might be a little self defeating since it would gut China’s air defenses and throw cities back to the 19th centruy as electrical,communications, and internet infrastructure would be annihilated by the EMP effect.

          • Technoweapon

            Good God, man. That’s a wee bit extreme, wouldn’t you say?

            “Screw EW! Let’s just nuke the fck out of the atmosphere!”

            I lol’ed. And only because I lol’ed will you get a +1.

    • toohey

      JDAMs have an inertial guidance and newer variants can ride a laser beam

      • Technoweapon

        I ride laser beams to work.

      • ghostwhowalksnz

        laser beam ?
        Doesnt work in rain, fog or dust storm

  • Sam

    Reminds me of the time early in the last Iraq War when Iraq turned on one of those so called “GPS Jammers” from China or Russia and the Allied spokesperson said they destroyed it with a GPS guided bomb. Too funny!

  • SuttonHoo


  • Lance

    Cool idea but the size makes it work only well for BIG bombers like the B-52 and B-1 like the pic shows. A F-16 or F-15E would have issues with such large bombs.

    • Technoweapon

      Well, lucky for us Americans! We’ve got plenty of BUFF’s and Bone’s to throw around!

    • GreensboroVet

      Lance it did say 500 lbs first. I am not expert on aircraft, but I sure the falcons and eagles wont have a problems hauling 500 lbs around.

  • ltfunk

    It’s little wonder that th epentagon is lookign at longer range everything from bombs to AAMs.

    Considering the miserable survivalibly of the aircraft comming up thier only hope will be to shoot as far away as possible and run. Though all the scenarios with the F-35 show that running is futile anyways.

    • Raraavis

      Maybe they can build a F-35 that can back away from it’s target so it doesn’t have to turn and show off it’s giant unstealthy ass.

  • William C.

    Seems like it would be a useful capability to have. I wouldn’t bother with the rocket boosted variants however. Leave that to JSOW-ER.

  • anthony

    Id say drop one fourth the size of a A-bomb were we know it would hurt,alot cheaper and ifficient instead of shooting match heads,eventually well have to drop one its size,by contineuing making bombs bigger and bigger??

    • Technoweapon

      No. Quite the opposite, in fact. Miniaturization is on the horizon. SDB’s are already becoming more popular. Payload capabilities are shrinking but we still want the same lethal effectiveness so we’re looking into shrinking our weapons.

      Sooner or later you’ll see the destructive power of a JDAM in a weapon a quarter the size of what it is today.

      Isn’t technology wonderful?

  • EW3

    Depends; if it’s below freezing, you snow down death and destruction. ;)

  • zaphd

    I remember reading something about the South Koreans proposing this idea. I wonder if they are the unnamed ally.

  • elizzar

    gps-haters be hating … erm, surely one of the main points with this modification technology is the relative cheapness, turning a dumb-ish bomb into such a guided weapon compared to the cost of a cruise missile or similar? it could also have interesting naval applications for carrier strike aircraft etc.

  • Robert Fritts

    Just a good attempt to copy the French ASSAM or Hammer being used by the French Military and now being intergrated onto UAE Desert Falcons. A large American source of these type of weapons is good. But with Boeing involved it will be over priced and way behind schedule.

  • Peter

    It sounds similar to the South African Umbani program:

    Of course, it’s unlikely that Umbani is the foreign technology used by Boeing, but it’s an example of what another country is doing. I understand Australia is doing something similar, and China’s rumored to be working with Pakistan on a glide bomb project. Pakistan has bought the H-2 and H-4 (Raptor and Raptor II) guided glide weapons from South Africa in the past. For more information on the latter weapons, follow the link below and scroll down:

  • Infidel4LIFE

    Win win. Good move.

  • Woodswalker

    It was somewhat jarring to read…

  • blight_

    AGM-130 for the win?

    That said, is it safe to assume that the stated range would require very high altitude to maximize glide time?

    • Technoweapon

      Probably. It’s supposed to have some kind of propulsion, too, if I read that correctly.

      Good deal for bombers. Stay safe up high while being able to release accurate weapons.