The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a low-cost guidance kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided "smart" weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a new tail section that contains an inertial navigation system/global positioning system (INS/GPS) and body strakes for additional stability and lift. Bombs can be accurately delivered in any weather conditions and be launched at a great distance from the target, and the navigation system can be relied on to update the weapon all the way to impact.
Boeing heritage company McDonnell Douglas Corp. developed the JDAM kits under a contract first awarded in 1988. The Boeing facility in St. Charles produces more than 40 JDAM kits every day. On Aug. 20, 2013, Boeing marked its production of the 250,000th kit.
The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the militaries of more than 26 additional countries employ JDAM. Its first operational use was during Operation Allied Force in the Balkans in 1999. JDAM has been used extensively in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and most recently in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya.
The Laser Joint Attack Direct Munition (Laser JDAM) expanded the capabilities of the JDAM. Because of its modular design, an affordable laser sensor kit can be installed on an existing JDAM in the field within minutes. In addition to the all-weather GPS/INS capability that conventional JDAMs offer, Laser JDAM adds the ability to prosecute targets of opportunity, including mobile and maritime targets.
Laser JDAM is operational on U.S. Air Force F-15E and F-16 and U.S. Navy F/A-18 and A/V-8B platforms, and it is also used by six other countries. Boeing completed the Laser JDAM development and testing cycle in less than 17 months and delivered the first production Laser JDAMs to the U.S. Air Force in May 2008.
In August 2012, Boeing announced that a winged version of the JDAM will triple the weapon's glide range to more than 40 miles (64 kilometers) had been developed in partnership with the Commonwealth of Australia. The 500-pound (226-kilogram) JDAM Extended Range (JDAM-ER) features a modular add-on wing kit that will unfold in flight. The kit can also be coupled with other modular enhancements, such as laser sensors. Boeing said it would produce and integrate wing kits in-country for the Royal Australian Air Force.