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Boeing awarded $312 million contract for JDAM bomb guidance kits

Boeing was awarded an almost $312 million contract for Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kits for the U.S. Air Force, a U.S. Department of Defense release said.

The $311,805,780 “ceiling increase modification” to an earlier contract “provides for JDAM strap-on inertial guidance kits with the capability to receive guidance updates from global positioning systems to increase weapon accuracy for conventional inventory bombs,” the Monday, April 2 release said.

Work under the sole-source acquisition contract that was awarded on March 30 is expected to be complete by March 30, 2020.

The often-modified contract was first awarded in October 2014 at a maximum amount of $1,748,000,000, and in May 2016, the contract ceiling was increased to more than $3.2 billion.

In March 2016, Boeing was awarded an almost $326 million delivery order for 15,000 JDAM tail kits, the last order that specified a delivery quantity. The contract included “technical services task management, non-warranty support induction and evaluation, and system field support,” but put the JDAM at around $20,000 per unit. That contract was due to be completed the day before the latest modification.

In January 2017, The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported each kit was priced at $25,000 and that Boeing aimed to produce them at a rate of 150 per day.

Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)
Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)

Making dumb bombs smarter

The Joint Direct Attack Munition is a guidance kit that converts unguided “dumb” gravity bombs into accurate, guided “smart bombs.”

A joint U.S. Air Force and Navy program, the bolt-on kit contains a GPS-aided inertial navigational system to improve the accuracy of general purpose bombs.

Target coordinates can be loaded before takeoff, manually altered before release, or automatically entered using aircraft systems. Once released, the JDAM autonomously navigates to the designated coordinates.

When GPS-aided, the JDAM can hit with a circular error probable of 5 metres or less, and when the GPS signal is jammed or lost, he weapon can achieve a 30-metre CEP for free flight times up to 100 seconds, the Air Force says.

The kit can be used on the 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK 84 bomb, the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK 83 bomb or the 500-pound BLU-111/MK 82 bomb.

Research and development of an “adverse weather precision guided munition” began in 1992 after Operation Desert Storm highlighted a shortfall in air-to-surface weapon capability. The first JDAMs were delivered in 1997 and the system was first deployed in 1999.

Boeing says more than 260,000 JDAM guidance kits have been built.

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