Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Technical Directions (TDI), a business unit within Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, and Boeing for the TDI-J85 turbine engine to provide propulsion for the Powered Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

Boeing’s Powered JDAM combines a 500lb ordnance and the conventional JDAM guidance kit, with a wing kit and a Kratos TDI-J85 engine to expand the potential range of the weapon system. In a 16 October release, Kratos stated the programme would also provide cost savings due in part to the “low cost turbine engine technology” developed by TDI.

It is anticipated that the Powered JDAM (P-JDAM) will provide air-launched, low-cost, stand-off capability against land and maritime threats. Leveraging the JDAM family of weapons, it is designed to be produced at scale, exportable to any of the 35 JDAM partner nations, Kratos stated.

“With the Kratos acquisition of TDI, we have substantially invested in manufacturability for production scale resulting in an incredibly high engine performance-to-cost ratio, while ensuring we can meet the large quantity deliveries predicted for the Powered JDAM system and programme,” said Joseph Kovasity, senior vice-president for TDI.

The TDI-J85 is capable of producing 200lbf (pound-force) of net thrust at sea-level static conditions. The engine is compatible with commercial and/or military kerosene-grade turbine fuels and can produce up to 1.5kW of AC power, from idle through maximum engine speeds, for P-JDAM’s onboard power requirements.

Extending range with JDAM

The move to provide an engine capability to the JDAM is the latest step in a series of evolutions that the munition has undergone, mainly with a view to extending the range of the system’s accuracy. JDAM kits, which have been in production since 1998, can transform unguided free-fall bombs into all-weather, precision-guided smart weapons.

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The Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) variant, which uses guidance wings but without propulsion, was jointly developed by Boeing and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation, entering service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2015.

The JDAM-ER incorporates a low-cost wing set to triple the stand-off range of JDAMs to more than 45 miles (72km). Although the range of the proposed P-JDAM has not been disclosed, it is likely to be significantly in excess of the JDAM-ER.