The military is shifting its focus on competing against the world’s major navies. In this effort, the Air Force is developing a new ship-killing guided bomb.
On August 26th, the Air Force Research Laboratory tested the capability of using modified 2,000-pound GBU-31 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) on both stationary and moving targets in the water.
From the Eglin Air Force Base, three F-15E Strike Eagle fighters armed with copy versions of the weapon tried out different ways of using it. They sought to prove it would work.
What Head Of Development Had To Say
An interview took place with Col. Anthony Meeks, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s munitions. He said the test shows whether pilots could drop the bombs on “different aim points to defeat maritime threats.”
Meeks said that those “aim points” could be at the top of the vessel, the waterline, or just below the water’s surface. Aim points are the place where the crew wants the weapon to hit.
He declined to answer when asked if the weapon could target specific ship portions, such as its bridge, propulsion, fuel tanks, or guns. Meeks explained the exact capabilities of the JDAM are classified.
Reasons For The New Ship-Killing Guided Bomb
The advancement of the weapon comes when the military is moving away from fighting land-based militant groups in the Middle East. They are now preparing for potential conflicts against major powers. Some of those major powers, such as China, have substantial naval forces.
According to an Air Force’s press release, the test is intended to be “a low-cost method of achieving torpedo-like seaworthy kills from the air”. However, the new ship-killing guided bomb is not self-powered. The velocity depends on the speed of the aircraft deploying it. And when in water, the fins drive it toward its target.
Among the modifications to this bomb is a redesigned nose plug, Meeks stated. If the new ship-killing guided bomb hits the water shortly before striking its target, that modified nose plug keeps it from bouncing off the surface in another unexpected direction.
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