US-Delivered Air-Launched JDAM Smart Bombs Operational in Ukraine

The US has delivered Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) precision-guided bombs to Ukraine. The weapon is capable of hitting targets 45 miles (72 kilometers) away.

Chief of US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Gen. James Hecker, revealed that the delivery took place three weeks ago.

 “Recently, we’ve just gotten some precision munitions [to Ukraine] that had some extended range and go a little bit further than the gravity drop bomb and has precision [guidance],” The War Zone quoted Hecker as saying at a symposium.

“That’s a recent capability that we were able to give them probably in the last three weeks.”

JDAM Extended Version 

The Pentagon announced sending the “precision aerial munitions” to Ukraine as part of a $1.85-billion package announced on December 21

It was unclear which version of the weapon would be sent.

On February 22, Bloomberg revealed that the package included the JDAM extended version with three times the range of the standard version.

Hecker referred to the munition as the GBU-62, which could be the GBU-62B(V-1)/B Quickstrike-ER that pairs the JDAM-ER kit with the 2,000-pound (907 kilograms) class Mk 64 Quickstrike naval mine.

The JDM kit consists of a tail with a GPS-assisted inertial navigation guidance system and strakes that aid the bomb in gliding toward the designated target.

US Air Force load-crew members transport an inert GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb to load into an F-22 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, July 19, 2013. Image: US Air Force/Senior Airman Kasey Close

Heavier Warhead, Longer Range

Hecker said that the JDAM would allow the Ukrainians to hit targets beyond the reach of their present air and ground-launched weapons such as the US-supplied HIMARS and the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System supplied by other countries.

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The JDAM warhead is also much heavier than the HIMARS-launched Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System warhead at 200 pounds (91 kilograms).

The USAFE chief underlined the operational conditions that might limit the munition’s employability in battle.

“I don’t want to get into the exact tactics… but obviously, the lower you are, and the further away from the surface to air missiles that can detect you because of the curvature of the earth,” affect how far the bomb can travel, Hecker explained. 

“There are tactics where you can go in low and do some things… and get back.”