Boeing has announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Australian engineering company, Ferra, to extend its 12-year collaboration by continuing production of the Joint Direct Attack Munition Extended-Range (JDAM-ER) wing kits through to 2028.
In addition, the two companies will also work together to explore applications for the next-generation Powered Joint Direct Attack Munition (P-JDAM).
This arrangement comes just after the global aerospace prime secured another joint manufacturing agreement last week with the Technical Directions Unit (TDI), a Kratos Defense and Security Solutions subsidiary, to produce the TDI-J85 propulsion engine that will power the P-JDAM.
The JDAM-ER is a 500Ib winged-variant of the conventional JDAM precision bomb guidance kit originally produced by Boeing. The ER aerial munition was jointly developed alongside Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation.
JDAM-ER wings unfold in flight and triple the range of the weapon from 15 miles (24km) to more than 45 miles. The modular-design wing kit can be easily upgraded with improved technologies and other modular enhancements such as laser sensors and anti-jamming countermeasures.
Meanwhile, the next-generation P-JDAM is a long-range, low-cost and mass-producible JDAM derivative that can travel upwards of 300 nautical miles.
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A symbol of Australian industrial expansion
The Boeing-Fara partnership aligns with the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) commitment to enhance sovereign weapons capability under the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) Enterprise and aligns with the AUKUS security partnership goal of advancing trilateral defence capabilities.
Chief of GWEO, Air Marshal Leon Phillips, praised the joint efforts of the Defence Science and Technology Group, Boeing and Ferra.
“This project is a great example of Australian industry working with [the ADF] to the great benefit of one of our key allies, the United States,” he said.
The JDAM-ER kits triple the effective range of the standard JDAM — a low-cost option to convert the existing munitions into guided smart munitions.
The Commonwealth has been attempting to expand its general ordnance industry with the aim of increasing the ADF’s inventory and, most importantly, scaling its indigenous development of systems.
In that spirit, the Australian Government relies on a policy of collaboration with European organisations such as MBDA, which will upskill its defence industrial base.
GlobalData intelligence tells us that among geographic segments, Europe is projected to dominate the sector with a share of 31.1%.