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United States Military Weapons of War
Part 2: Non-Nuclear Missiles and Bombs (Page 3)


General Purpose Bombs. General Purpose (GP) bombs are free fall ordnance or sometimes referred to as dumb bombs. The bombs are dumb in the fact they are only as accurate as the pilot or platform delivering them. The primary weapons effects are due to blast and fragmentation.

They come in a variety of sizes and weights ranging from 250 pounds for the MK-81 (pronounced "Mark"), 500 pounds for the MK-82, 1000 pounds for the MK-83, 2,000 pounds for the MK-84, 750 pounds for the M-117, and 3000 pounds for the M-118. Obviously the bigger the bomb the bigger the bang.

An improved 2,000 pounder designated the BLU-109/B has twice the thickness of the MK-84 and is used as a hardened penetration bomb. The BLU-107/B DURANDAL is a French made runway penetration bomb used for cratering runways rendering useless for aircraft operations. The M-117 (750 lbs) and M-118 (3000 lbs) bombs are primarily carried by heavy bombers.

By adding special guidance kits to the MK-83 and MK-84 the bombs accuracy and performance are greatly enhanced. These bombs then become precision guided munitions (smart bombs) and are designated by the GBU (Guided Bomb Unit) series bombs.

Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). JDAM isn't exactly a bomb. It's a kit which turns a dumb bomb into a smart bomb. The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a guidance tail kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurate, adverse weather "smart" munitions. With the addition of a new tail section that contains an inertial navigational system and a global positioning system guidance control unit, JDAM improves the accuracy of unguided, general purpose bombs in any weather condition. JDAM is a joint U. S. Air Force and Department of Navy program.

JDAM is a guided air-to-surface weapon that uses either the 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK 84 or the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK 83 warheads as the payload. JDAM enables employment of accurate air-to-surface weapons against high priority fixed and relocatable targets from fighter and bomber aircraft. Guidance is facilitated through a tail control system and a GPS-aided INS. The navigation system is initialized by transfer alignment from the aircraft that provides position and velocity vectors from the aircraft systems.

Once released from the aircraft, the JDAM autonomously navigates to the designated target coordinates. Target coordinates can be loaded into the aircraft before takeoff, manually altered by the aircrew before weapon release, and automatically entered through target designation with onboard aircraft sensors. In its most accurate mode, the JDAM system will provide a weapon circular error probable of 13 meters or less during free flight when GPS data is available. If GPS data is denied, the JDAM will achieve a 30-meter CEP or less for free flight times up to 100 seconds with a GPS quality handoff from the aircraft.

JDAM can be launched from very low to very high altitudes in a dive, toss and loft or in straight and level flight with an on-axis or off-axis delivery. JDAM enables multiple weapons to be directed against single or multiple targets on a single pass.

JDAM is currently compatible with B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, F-16C/D and F/A-18C/D aircraft. Follow-on integration efforts are currently underway or planned to evaluate compatibility with the A-10 F-15E, F-22, F-117, AV-8B, F-14A/B/D, F/A-18E/F, S-3, and the Joint Strike Fighter.

Desert Storm highlighted a shortfall in air-to-surface weapon capability. Adverse weather conditions limited employment of precision guided munitions. Unguided weapon accuracy was also degraded when delivered from medium and high altitudes. Research and development of an"adverse weather precision guided munition" began in 1992. The first JDAMs were delivered in 1997 with operational testing conducted in 1998 and 1999. More than 450 JDAMs were dropped during testing, recording an unprecedented 95 percent system reliability while achieving a 9.6-meter accuracy rate. JDAM performance has been demonstrated in operationally representative tests including drops through clouds, rain and snow. These tests included a B-2 releasing 16 JDAMs on a single pass against multiple targets in two separate target areas.

JDAM and the B-2 made their combat debuts during Operation Allied Force. The B-2s, flying 30-hour, nonstop, roundtrip flights from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., delivered more than 600 JDAMs during Allied Force. This combination of stealth and accuracy has revolutionized air warfare. Growth of the JDAM family of weapons expanded to the MK-82 500-pound version, which began development in late 1999. Also, the Navy is currently studying the effects of adding enhancements such as improved GPS accuracy, a precision seeker for terminal guidance and additional warheads.

Primary Function: Guided air-to-surface weapon
Contractor: Boeing Corp.
Length: (JDAM and warhead) GBU-31 (v) 1/B: 152.7 inches (387.9 centimeters); GBU-31 (v) 3/B: 148.6 inches (377.4 centimeters); GBU-32 (v) 1/B: 119.5 inches (303.5 centimeters)
Launch Weight: (JDAM and warhead) GBU-31 (v) 1/B: 2,036 pounds (925.4 kilograms); GBU-31 (v) 3/B: 2,115 pounds (961.4 kilograms); GBU-32 (v) 1/B: 1,013 pounds (460.5 kilograms)
Wingspan: GBU-31: 25 inches (63.5 centimeters); GBU-32: 19.6 ins. (49.8 centimeters)
Range: Up to 15 miles
Ceiling: 45,000-plus feet (13,677 meters)
Guidance System: GPS/INS
Unit cost: Approximately $21,000 per tailkit (FY 01 dollars)
Date Deployed: 1999
Inventory: The tailkit is in full-rate production. Projected inventory is 87,496 total, 62,000 for the Air Force and 25,496 for the Navy

GBU-10/12 Paveway II. Based on the MK-82 & MK-84 GP bombs, the Paveway II series of Laser Guided Bombs (LGBs) contains a semi-active laser homing seeker, canards on the nose & tail section, and control surfaces on the aft end. The weapon is capable of operating in cloud ceilings down to 2,500 feet. The GBU-10/12 weigh 2,081 lbs & 610 lbs, respectively.

Class 2000 lb. Paveway I & II Laser Guided Weapons
Mission Air interdiction
Targets Mobile hard, fixed soft, fixed hard
Service Air Force, Navy
First capability 1976
Guidance method Laser
Weight (lbs.) 2562
Length: (in.) 172
Diameter (in.): 15/18 (Warhead)
28 (Airfoil Group)
Warhead: BLU-109 penetrator
MK 84: Blast/Fragmentation
Explosive: 535 lbs. Tritonal [BLU-109]
945 lbs. Tritonal [MK 84]
Range: 8 nautical miles
Circular error probable: 9 meters
Quantity: Air Force: 10,145
Navy: 1,184
Production unit cost: Air Force: $23,700
Navy: $26,100
Platforms: A-7, A-10, B-52, F-111, F-117, F-15E, F- 16 , F/A-18 C/D, A-6, F-14

Class: 500 lb. Paveway I & II Guided Weapon
Mission: Air interdiction
Targets: Mobile hard, fixed soft, fixed hard
Service: Air Force, Navy
Contractor: Texas Instruments
First capability: 1976
Guidance: Semi-Active Laser
Weight: (lbs.) 800
Length (in.): 129
Diameter (in.): 11 (Warhead); 18 (Airfoil Group)
Warhead: MK-82 Blast/Fragmentation
Explosive: Tritonal, PBXN-109 (192 lbs.)
Range: 8 nautical miles
Circular error probable: 9 meters
Quantity: Air Force: 29,654
Navy: 2,982
Production unit cost: Air Force: $19,000;
Navy: $19,050
Platforms: A-7, A-10, B-52, F-111, F-117, F-15, F- 16, F/A-18 C/D, F-14, A-6

Next page > More Bombs > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Above Photographs Official U.S. Air Force & Navy Photographs

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