Navy F/A-18s Firing Laser JDAMs at ISIL Targets

The commander on board the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier overseeing the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq said Navy F/A-18s have flown at least 30 bombing missions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, targets.

Thus far, Navy planes have destroyed ISIL mobile artillery positions, convoys and other strategic targets including vehicles and equipment captured by ISIL, said Navy Rear Adm. DeWolfe Miller, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Two told reporters by phone from the Arabian Gulf.

The Navy F/A-18s are configured with a host of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons such as the GBU-54 500-pound laser-guided bombs dropped in Iraq.  Laser-guided bombs can be guided by a laser-designation from the air or nearby ground forces. The GBU-54s dropped in Iraq are known as Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions or LJDAMS, which rely on GPS guidance to pinpoint their targets.

The GBU 54 is a 581-pound glide bomb with a range of up to 15 nautical miles, service officials said. The weapon uses semi-active laser guidance as well as GPS and inertial navigation systems.

Navy officials said standard laser guidance packages on bombs prove exceptionally accurate in clear conditions against stationary targets. However, with significant amounts of environmental factors such as airborne dust, smoke, fog, or cloud cover, the guidance packages can have difficulty maintaining “lock” on the laser designation while pursuing moving or maneuvering targets, officials explained.

This is why the GBU-54 was engineered. It is a dual-mode precision-guided bomb designed to destroyed fixed and re-locatable or moving targets, Navy officials said.

Miller said the intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance (ISR) missions flown over Iraq in recent months by F/A-18s helped familiarize pilots with ISIL targets and contributed to the success thus far of the attacks.

“Almost every flight that we do is involved with non-traditional ISR,” Miller said.

The Bush carrier strike group, which has flown more than 1,000 sorties over Iraq in recent months, shifted this past June from missions supporting Afghanistan operations to its present role in Iraq.  Prior to conducting missions in Iraq, the USS Bush flew 1,300 sorties over Afghanistan, Miller said.

“What we’ve shown throughout this deployment is flexibility, adaptability and the persistent nature of naval forces that are able to transition. Naval forces are where you need us when you need us with the capability that you need,” Miller said.

The attacks on ISIL by the U.S. Navy have involved F/A-18 fighter jets as well as E2 Hawkeye surveillance planes and EA-6B Prowlers for electronic warfare, Capt. Dan L. Cheever, Commander, Carrier Air Wing Eight, told reporters.

Two helicopter squadrons are assisting the effort as well, Cheever said.

Navy officials said the strike missions have been successful but would not comment on operational warfare questions such as whether ISIL has been firing anti-aircraft artillery back at U.S. planes during strike missions.

“We can handle whatever they have,” Miller said.

At the moment, the USS Bush carrier strike group includes the USS Philippine Sea, a cruiser and two destroyers, the USS Roosevelt and the USS O’Kane, Navy officials said.

The carrier strike group is joined by an Amphibious Ready Group also in the Arabian Gulf consisting of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship and the USS Gunston Hall, a dock landing ship, Navy officials said.

The USS Bush has completed six months out of a planned nine-month deployment, however the carrier could wind up staying longer if bombing missions continue, Miller said.

“We are a sustainable force and we will stay out here as long as we’re needed,” he said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • ghostwhowalksnz

    I suppose the A10 is just too busy to be sent out there and without any airfields they just have to rely on carrier launched aircraft

    • Robbie

      I’m surprised we haven’t moved AF aircraft into next door Kuwait. Much quicker reaction time and longer loiter times…..

    • Lt_Dave_Mallevic

      We don’t want any downed pilots in ISIS hands. That’s why no A-10. It’s got no chance in a MANPAD/SHORAD environment.

  • Tangodown

    Yeah, he comes back to the ‘Oval’ every once in a while to REST UP…for the NEXT fundraiser.

  • Doc

    Can we name something the Scimitar?
    Maybe just a little one? Puh-leeze?

  • jetta

    The marines in the amphibious ready group are sharpening their bayonets, no doubt.

    • oblatt22

      Yep just as soon as the army secures Iraq and Syria they will be ready.

      When Obama asked the marines for their plan for ISIS overrunning the capital they gave him a plan to evacuate. That why SOCOM is on the ground not the marines.

      • js

        Trust me there are Marines on the ground. Remember you have MARSOC and force recon they are everywhere. I’m sure there are alot of military special forces there they just don’t let everyone know.

  • orcadrvr

    The entire Middle East resembles “Geopolitical Rubic’s Cube”. Just a few months ago, we were going to bomb Assad who was fighting ISIS. Now we are bombing ISIS, who is fighting Assad. We were preparing to bomb Iran, but now we are on the same side as they are, vis a vis their fight against ISIS. And so on, and so on…..

  • John Deere

    If Clinton had pulled the troops out at the demand of some religious nut job, Republicans would have branded him Carter mk2. Clinton was very robust militarily, he was no shrinking violet.

    Bush isn’t responsible for 9/11, but Bush is responsible for the current mess. Bush went after Sadam to stamp Pax Americana on the Middle East - he really thought American style “freedom” would trump the Iraqi people’s religious, ethnic and tribal concerns. The US occupation of Iraq radicalized a generation across the Middle East, the power vacuum left by the inept Iraqi Government enabled the new militants to seize control.

    Dropping bombs on people doesn’t cure terrorism. It radicalizes the survivors, their families and their communities. Bombing simply makes things worse.

  • Andy

    Where are the B52’s….Do the entire IS convoy at once….

  • Michael

    Your doing the right thing.

  • Zolton

    I wonder how well an F-35 would do compared to the F/A-18. What a great plane.

  • @ITOdeed

    Would love to see the IS bombing videos here.

  • Irony of the innocent naïveté

    For every problem there’s always a final solution ;)

    Don’t bother replying and if you don’t get the actual meaning rather than the superficial obvious one than ignore it completely

  • Joe

    waste of time, money, and airframe hours. not our people, not our fight, not our problem.

  • tincan

    I support overkill. Get the 52’s up there. Napalm will suffice.

  • mitchRAvet

    Where are the A-10s and C-130 Spectres?? Isis could be destroyed day and night between airforce and Naval aircraft By the way Yemeni Al queda has joined Isis.They want death, let them have it.{ and of course B52s would be wonderful}

  • JOE

    Regardless of the weak skinny obama and his accomplices (rest of his politicians) who should be accountable for their mistakes in his lack of strategic and geopolitical policies which cost a lot of TREASURE & BLOOD to USA, there must be a SOLID OPERATION (with a name, as always) and wipe out those maniacs MFs of ISIS or ISIL (or whatever they call themselves) who are emboldened because of this inefficient administration who LACKS of military knowledge and the Middle East is starting to be engulfed in flames because of them.
    It’s a total SHAME and offensive to provide information to the media of a COVERT OPERATION regardless of it’s outcome good or bad you NEVER EVER say NOTHING to nobody and this coward politicians did it looking for a political gain of less than 5 minutes because of the beheading of the journalist and I quote “What about the others who are still hostages” they sign their Death sentence (Damn Coward Politicians).
    The problem is not just ISIS or ISIL, it is also IRAN, (which is the worst enemy in the zone) and above all the MF who did murdered James Foley (had a british accent) just do the math how many of these psychopaths are all over the world in Europe and or (who knows) in USA in some sleeper cells waiting to strike with a big bang.
    And what about our unique and only ally (for real) Israel who are in a very awful situation and the skinny guy is in Martha’s Vineyard playing golf, oh I’m sorry he just came back.
    He is doing NOTHING to help the Israelites, what is he waiting for?
    A dirty nuclear bomb to go off because of a damn brainwashed terrorist will do it, the question is not will it happen, but when, and what about the south border? How many terrorist came thru?
    This country is in a straight downfall because of obama and his accomplices, citizens and military DO SOMETHING to make understand the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER this country is living in.

    • guest

      WOW, that is quite a…..synopsis of our current situation!! Too bad it is not really that drastic or one sided as far as the blame goes. Now, I am no fan of the Obama administration but they are not the only ones to blame and not the start of many issues. If I remember correctly, IRAN has been giving us problems during the 2 BUSH administrations, except that BUSH 1 did scare them a little, but his son did NOTHING to keep them in check. Neither did slick WIlly, and that goes for those Kooky Norks also :-).
      BOTH political parties SUCK….they spend so much time and energy, trying to make the other one look bad, or fail, that almost nothing gets accomplished correctly. And while our military may be the BEST in the world, yes, that’s right the BEST, the non SOCOM guys are a bloated bueracracy (?) at the top too. They are so scared of being creative or taking initiative so as to not harm their future advancement, that it is terrible at times. SOCOM saves the day at least, and then, every once in a while, we get a Schrarzkoph or this last guy who was supposed to be good, Tommy something or other. That is, until Rumsfeld and cronies, ruined the original calls for the proper troops and support. And when Sinsiki was booted for not going along with their plan, and later vindicated after wards, he was booted to where, the VA. One of the only places in the military GUARANTEED TO FAIL!! hahahahah and then, when that blew up, they wanted to blame the last 30 years worth of problems on him! HAH…so, as professional and as great and far sighted as that guy was, I guess it was just time for him to go onto better things…..I hope. Because he deserves it. Its the guys like him that speak truth to fact, that get tossed around, and stabed in the back by his compatriots, instead of supported. And the politicians, no matter what party they are from, do not want to listen, but soothe their own ego’s and agenda’s.

      Does anyone really, truly, honestly believe, that Dick Cheney’s former company, the one he worked for prior to becoming Vice President, was awarded over $30 billion of non competitive contracts. And then, when some were found to be cheating our government out of money, were fined some miniscule amount, compared to what they stole. And who paid for it……no one…, before you go blaming this guy or that, lets look at the big picture. I am so pessimistic about our future getting better, economically, politically, and internationally, it scares ME!! :-) And I am usually a optimist. It is just like the DEPRESSION of 2008 and the home mortgage fiasco. All the big bankers, in my belief, saw how the government bailed out the S & L bust, with no major players going to jail, and thought…hmmmmm. We can do this, and not get hurt! So, while all these loans were being made, for $3, 4, 5ooK houses to people making $40-60K, who could never honestly get approved and made all this HUGE profits for them selves and their companies, when the bottom fell out, what happened? NOTHING, hahahahaha and they took their money, and the BONUS’S that they continued to get paid, believe that or not, and a few little guys went to jail, for short terms. Hey, back then, let me keep $50,000,000 and give you 3 years in a country club jail, and I would have thrown in another year or two!! Oh well, that is my rant, so, I am a little tired of just blaming Obama for everything, at least the guy had the balls to go kill OBL, because Bush would NOT have done that. Hey, I voted for that scumbag the first time, and didn’t vote the second time. The GOP has run out of good leaders. None want the job :-)!!

  • citanon

    Thank god they are using the cheap stuff. Every time I see a punch of terrorists get vaporized by something like an LGB, I cringe a little knowing that we just spent half a million dollars taking out that piece of garbage.

    With JDAMs running $50K a piece, the price is little more acceptable.

    There’s still the cost of fuel, etc. Ugh. What a waste.

    • Phil

      JDAMs are actually price competitive with non-guided bombs, because you don’t need as much storage for all the more ordnance you would need and extra sorties (plus danger to aircraft) to deliver them if you were’t hitting your targets.

  • Denis

    If we know where these targets are, why are we dropping individual airstrikes instead of one massive drop on these scumbags. I’m so tired of hearing of U.S. and other innocent civilians being killed by these terrorists. When Japan struck Pearl Harbor we dropped the atomic bomb, and they surrendered, now we just shoot bb’s and hope they will stop. After 13 years of fighting with these losers who keep rising, and trading known terrorists for one soldier who deserted his post, which I might add infuriates me because it wouldn’t happen for people like me or reporter James Foley. If they are hiding in the mountains or wherever, and we have location on them, then why the hell are we shooting bb’s, its time to level them and show them, we the U.S. at not putting up with their BS anymore and this is what they the terrorists have brought onto themselves. Level the mountain or villages in one swift blow, and don’t stop until they are either all obliterated or ask for forgiveness. Its the least we could do for the innocent citizens who are being murdered for their terroristic propaganda. End this jihadist BS once and for all. Show them we stand proud and aren’t going to take this crap anymore. I hate to see innocent people over there killed, but apparently they aren’t standing up against these brain dead scum, or they are supporters and pretending not to be. Either that or enforce all civilians out of the region and enforce no travel in or out of that region into our country. Let them kill off th mselves, and start worrying about our own problems here. Sick of people dying over there for billions if not trillions AF taxpayers money and for what, what have the Islamic country’s given us in return for support, oil? We can get it elsewhere. Amen and god bless our soldiers.

  • Stanley

    I love the way so many commentors are confidently asserting we should bomb these ISIL terrorists. A month or two ago, they’d never heard of ISIL. Now they’ve heard some vague soundbites on the evening news, and suddenly they’re experts on the situation. They’re totally confident about how many people we should kill, and with what weapons, and what strategies we could use that might best support indiscriminate carpet bombing. Dear Lord.

    You armchair war-mongers: remember how you rushed to support the invasion of Afghanistan? You felt pretty confident you knew it all, thanks to those handy news soundbites, right? How’d that work out for your sons and daughters in the military, by the way? The ones who turned up to Afghanistan and found that the Afghan people had nothing to do with 911, and had no quarrel with the USA until you invaded? How are those young people who’ve returned Stateside with missing limbs and PTSD and alcoholism and wrecked lives? Their lives have been ruined, and for nothing. You achieved nothing in Afghanistan. Not one thing.

    Remember how you rushed to support the invasion of Iraq? You felt pretty confident you knew it all, thanks to those handy news soundbites, huh? So you eargerly sent your sons and daughters, and other people’s sons and daughters, off to a foreign land to occupy it and kill any disagreeable natives. How did that work out? Now that the debt for the war has passed three trillion, your economy is ruined, and tens of thousands of your young soldiers are disfigured, shellshocked, and suicidal? You tore up their lives, and turned Iraq into a quagmire. You took a functioning Iraq, where Moslem religious extremism was unheard of and Christians lived in peace - and you turned it into a charnel house, Christian Iraqis are slaughtered and more than a million died.

    Oh, and then there’s Assad. A tyrant! A monster! The news soundbites told you so! Bomb him now! Supply arms to the Islamists fighting him! …Hang on, it turns out Assad is protecting religious minorities like Christians …Hang on, now it seems Assad is moderate, and we need him to help stop ISIL, that we created…

    Anything else you military geniuses want to give your advice on, based on some lies and junk spewed out by the TV? Any other places we need to bomb, that you’ve never heard of? Any other groups we need to bomb now, having armed them just a few months beforehand?

  • Elijah

    Hey guys. Come to Ukraine. Our East needs your fire too.
    Kill some comies (russians).

  • brianw517

    The A10’s & B52 are being “fazed out” of service. The NEW Fighter/Bombers are being “fazed in” to service as the NEW Guard.