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!

  • Paul

    death and destruction REIGNS!

  • 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?

    • 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.


    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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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??

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?