Air Power destroys goal vessel with ship-killing JDAM

WASHINGTON — The Air Power final week examined its new ship-killing guided bomb by utilizing it to destroy a full-scale goal vessel within the Gulf of Mexico.

An F-15E Strike Eagle from Eglin Air Power Base in Florida on April 28 launched a GBU-31 joint direct assault munition, or JDAM, that had been modified to strike a maritime goal, the Air Power stated in a launch.

That is the Air Power Analysis Laboratory’s second take a look at of this maritime JDAM idea, known as the QUICKSINK Joint Functionality Expertise Demonstration. The primary take a look at in August used dummy variations of the weapon to verify the redesigned weapon might hit totally different factors on a goal as soon as launched.

It represents a serious step ahead within the Air Power’s capacity to sink a ship. And it comes at a time of accelerating concern concerning the potential for a battle with a serious energy with a major naval drive.

The U.S. navy is nervous about China’s rising navy functionality and the chance it might attempt to launch a swift invasion of the island nation of Taiwan.

And final month, the Ukrainian navy sunk the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva in a shocking strike with its Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.

“QUICKSINK is a solution to an pressing must neutralize maritime threats to freedom all over the world,” Col. Tony Meeks, director of AFRL’s munitions directorate, stated within the launch.

The two,000-pound GBU-31 JDAM is GPS-guided, however not self-propelled. After being launched from an plane, the launching airplane’s velocity and gravity give the JDAM velocity whereas fins information it towards its meant goal. The maritime model is meant to have the ability to hit each stationary and transferring targets on the water.

In a September 2021 interview with, Meeks stated one of many bomb’s modifications was a redesigned nostril plug. That is meant to maintain the bomb from veering off in an unintended course if it hits the water earlier than the goal, which Meeks likened to skipping a stone throughout the floor of a pond.

“What we’re making an attempt to know is the physics, the dynamics, to stop a JDAM from skipping off the floor of the water,” Meeks stated final September.

The Air Power is hoping this JDAM will give the service a brand new approach to kill ships at a decrease value. Not like conventional torpedoes launched by submarines, it will not journey below the water’s floor to a goal.

“Heavy-weight torpedoes are efficient [at sinking large ships] however are costly and employed by a small portion of naval property,” Maj. Andrew Swanson, chief of superior applications for the eighty fifth Check and Analysis Squadron on the 53rd Wing, stated within the launch. “With QUICKSINK, we’ve demonstrated a low-cost and extra agile answer that has the potential to be employed by the vast majority of Air Power fight plane, offering combatant commanders and warfighters with extra choices.”

The Air Power additionally stated final yr the GBU-31′s GPS steering system can be a serious step up from the older GBU-24′s laser steering. If a laser-guided bomb had been launched in opposition to a ship, the pilot must loiter within the space and proceed to light up the goal with the laser till it strikes. This might put the pilot vulnerable to being shot down by the focused ship.

However after releasing a GPS-guided maritime weapon, the pilot might get out of the ship’s vary instantly. And the GBU-31′s GPS steering would be capable of work in all climate situations, versus laser-guided weapons, which might have problem working in cloudy environments.

AFRL stated its scientists and engineers are utilizing the open methods structure idea to develop the bomb’s seeker that guides it in to the goal. Through the use of open methods structure, AFRL stated, the service will be capable of “plug-and-play” parts from totally different producers, which it hopes will preserve prices down and enhance efficiency.

And any plane that may carry a typical JDAM can even be capable of carry the modified maritime JDAMs, AFRL stated final yr.

The take a look at was carried out by AFRL and Eglin’s Built-in Check Group.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Protection News. He beforehand reported for, masking the Pentagon, particular operations and air warfare. Earlier than that, he coated U.S. Air Power management, personnel and operations for Air Power Occasions.