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More than 150 U.S. and foreign warfighters, customers and supplier partners met for a week to discuss the future plans for Boeing’s Direct Attack products, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB).
Providing new technology quickly with a low price tag isn’t all there is to supporting warfighters. Taking the time to personally listen to their needs and learn about the challenges they face on today’s ever-changing battlefields has always proven to be the best way for Boeing to mature its Direct Attack products.
“Boeing supports these events so we can provide one-on-one time with our customers, to listen to their candid feedback and understand all of their various future needs,” said Kristin Robertson, Director of Boeing’s Direct Attack Weapons. “The pilots always bring fresh requirements from combat, which is exactly how our idea of Laser JDAM came about. We also listened to their feedback from prior conferences, seeking fewer briefings and more tangible engagements.”
This year’s Direct Attack International Program Review featured something new for qualified foreign military sales customers: hands-on demonstrations with life-size inert weapons during the break-out sessions and customer meetings. Small groups of international customers, suppliers and even a brigadier general were given the chance to convert a JDAM into a Laser JDAM in a step-by-step demonstration using actual hardware and an inert full-scale warhead model. They also had the chance to upload SDB software, and run computerized maintenance tests on an SDB in the BRU-61 pneumatic carriage system.
“By assembling a Laser JDAM, everyone had the chance to experience first-hand how straightforward and quickly this upgrade can be installed in the field,” Robertson said.
“The demo session was actually a good opportunity for me to experience what the guys on the bases are doing,” said Lee Wan Ping, of Singapore’s Defense, Science and Technology Agency. “So, now I have a better understanding of what their maintenance process is like.”
“It’s the opportunity to work with our coalition partners, as well as our suppliers, to understand how everything fits together,” said Maj. Matthew Swanson, a U.S. Air Force F-15 pilot. “Just like I hope they understand better what we do in the battlefield, I’m also understanding why a system or a component works the way that it does. And, now I can use it better. I can employ it better.”