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The US Plans to Provide Ukraine With JDAM: a Kit For Converting Common Bombs Into High-Precision Ones And More

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Illustrative photo from open sources
Illustrative photo from open sources

JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) is an extremely pragmatic American solution that allows you to hit targets with a deviation of a few meters, and in certain cases to drop bombs at a distance of up to 70-80 km from the target

It seems that the USA plans to expand the list of weapons that will be transferred to Ukraine and plans to send Joint Direct Attack Munition kits (JDAM), The Washington Post based on its own sources reports.

Once it’s confirmed, this will be the second example of the integration of Western weapons with the Soviet aircraft after the AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile.

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The US Plans to Provide Ukraine With JDAM: a Kit For Converting Common Bombs Into High-Precision Ones And More, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The JDAM kit mounted on a conventional aerial bomb / Illustrative photo from open sources

JDAM is the most pragmatic solution, which consists in installing a special kit on existing conventional bombs, which turns them into high-precision ones. The kit consists of a block with a satellite and inertial navigation system, a steering wheel and a digital control system.

The JDAM kit increases accuracy to +/- several meters from the target, and the kit guides the bomb on an optimal trajectory that attacks at high angles of attack to maximize damage.

Considering the fact that JDAM corrects the flight of the bomb along the entire trajectory, it allows to reduce the impact of pilot error when dropping bombs. Moreover, allow to carry out "blind" bombing, when the target is not visually observed.

An important factor in the possibility of integrating JDAM with the MiG-29, Su-25, Su-24 and Su-27 is that the coordinates of the target can be embedded in the bomb while on the ground. That is, it is possible to bypass the need for a complete modernization of the entire on-board radio electronic equipment of the aircraft and the integration of a guidance module such as LANTIRN into it.

The US Plans to Provide Ukraine With JDAM: a Kit For Converting Common Bombs Into High-Precision Ones And More, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
The F-16 fighter jet with the LANTIRN unit under the air intake / Illustrative photo from open sources

But the JDAM kit is quite flexible in terms of further development. In particular, it can be supplemented with a laser homing head, then the kit is designated as LJDAM. In this case, targeting the bomb can be carried out not only by illuminating the target from an aircraft, but also, for example, from a UAV or a ground station. This method of targeting is extremely important when providing direct air support for units that are already in combat with the enemy.

The US Plans to Provide Ukraine With JDAM: a Kit For Converting Common Bombs Into High-Precision Ones And More, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
LJDAM / Illustrative photo from open sources

But the most interesting for Ukraine may be the JDAM-ER kit, which turns the bomb into not just a high-precision one, but also a planning one. Adding wings allows to extend the range of bombs up to 70-80 km.

For comparison, the drop range of conventional JDAMs in the case of idealized conditions (a flight height of 15 km, a speed of Mach 1.5) was about 44 km. Such flight heights in the case of the current situation in the skies of Ukraine are almost unreal. At the same time, the usual maximum range of JDAM appears at the level of 24 km. This already allows you to destroy the advanced positions of the enemy with JDAM bombs, but for the destruction of more distant objects, it is highly desirable to use the JDAM-ER.

The US Plans to Provide Ukraine With JDAM: a Kit For Converting Common Bombs Into High-Precision Ones And More, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
JDAM-ER during testing in 2019

A crucial factor is the price of the JDAM kit, which is measured, according to various sources, at the level of about 25 thousand dollars per unit. Also, most likely, in addition to the kit itself, the conventional bombs themselves must be transferred, as the installation of JDAM on Soviet FABs looks like a controversial decision, if at all a real one. And in this case, for the usual types of aviation bombs (such as FAB-100, FAB-250 and FAB-500) it is possible to immediately switch to NATO "measurements", such as 500 and 1000-pound.

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