JDAM Adds Precision Punch to the Reaper

GBU-38 JDAMs are mounted on an MQ-9 Reaper during drop testing at NAWS China Lake, CA
Photo: USAF

3/10/2009 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OH -- The already lethal MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft system will soon bring even more punch to the enemy in the form of the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

The results of the series of GBU-38 JDAM test drops at the China Lake test range in California are still being evaluated, but they mark a significant step in certifying the Reaper to carry the 500-pound version of the JDAM.

Considering the Reaper's perfect nine hits out of nine drops, the way ahead looks clear.

"This is a great success that adds another valuable weapon system to the warfighter's arsenal," said Col. Chris Coombs, 703rd Aeronautical Systems Group commander. "Putting the JDAM on the Reaper significantly increases its lethality on the battlefield."

Flight testing is only one part of the process, according to Colonel Coombs. After additional analysis, the group hopes to certify JDAM capability on the Reaper this July.

Currently, the Reaper is authorized to carry the GBU-12 Paveway II, which is a 500-pound laser-guided bomb and the AGM-114 Hellfire missile. The JDAM adds the precision afforded by its global positioning system guidance control unit along with adverse weather capability.

"We try to look at the types of target sets the warfighter needs to engage and the best weapon to utilize including a range of factors such as collateral damage," Colonel Coombs said. "Our next step is to add the GBU-39B Small Diameter Bomb, which will further increase the types of target sets the warfighter can engage."

The Aeronautical Systems Center's 703rd AESG teamed with other contractors and government agencies from General Atomics, The Boeing Co., Kaman Dayron Co., as well as the 678th Armament Systems Squadron and 679th Armament Systems Squadron, both based at Eglin AFB, Fla., to conduct the tests. In fact, the 679th ARSS was awarded the John J. Welch Jr. Award for Acquisition Leadership in large part to the squadron's efforts in the JDAM tests.

Source: USAF Press Release by Daryl Mayer

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