USAF completes first GBU-38 JDAM release from MQ-9 Reaper RPA


The US Air Force's (USAF) 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and the 26th Weapons Squadron (WPS) has successfully fired two GBU-38 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) from an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).

The trials were conducted as the JDAM is being added to the air force's arsenal in order to improve the attack capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper force.

The GBU-38s employed in training successfully hit their practice targets in a controlled environment over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

26th WPS weapons instructor pilot captain Scott said: "We had a great opportunity to drop the first live GBU-38s in training.

"The GBU-38 is a weapon we've been trying to get on the MQ-9 for several years now and we had the opportunity to be the first to drop it during training."

The latest validation of the JDAM proves that it can now be used for real-world engagements.

Scott added: "The GBU-38, just like the Hellfire and GBU-12, is a very accurate weapon and the fact that its GPS-guided gives us another versatile way to control the weapon."

"The GBU-38, just like the Hellfire and GBU-12, is a very accurate weapon and the fact that its GPS-guided gives us another versatile way to control the weapon."

The JDAM can also be used in poor weather conditions.

432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load crew member senior airman Curtis said: “The GBU-38 has a 20 minute load time compared to the GBU-12, which has a 30 minute load time.

“The GBU-38 is a quicker load compared to the GBU-12 and gets the plane in the air quicker.”

The JDAM is said to bring new global positioning system capabilities to the warfighters, who have been using AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 laser-guided bombs for the past ten years.


Image: An MQ-9 Reaper is loaded with a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb on the left and a GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition on the right. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen.