F/A-18 Hornet

Ferra Engineering has received a contract for the production and delivery of a new extended range (ER) wing kit for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon system.

The contract was awarded by Boeing Defence Space and Security (BDS), which was selected as the JDAM original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in May 2011.

Commenting on the contract, Australian defence materiel minister Dr Mike Kelly said the wing kit is expected to almost triple the JDAM-ER’s existing operational range, making it a cost-efficient weapon.

"The wing kit is based on the ‘Kerkanya’ glide technology initially developed by Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)," Kelly added.

Featuring an 80km range and accuracy similar to the JDAM weapon system, JDAM-ER is scheduled to be mounted onboard RAAF’s F/A-18 A/B Super Hornet aircraft fleet. The 500lb weapon system successfully completed wind tunnel testing at a US facility in June 2012.

"More than 230,000 JDAM tail kits have been built by Boeing for use by 26 international militaries, since production started."

Initial wing kits shipped under the contract will be used for the JDAM-ER flight tests in late 2013, while the remaining deliveries are anticipated to be completed by 2015.

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Manufactured jointly by Boeing and Lockheed, the JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit designed to convert existing 500lb, 1,000lb and 2,000lb unguided free-fall bombs into precisely guided all-weather smart munitions.

Equipped with adjustable tail fins and an inertial navigation system / global positioning system control unit, the modular system also supports integration of a laser sensor, improved immunity to GPS jamming and an all-weather radar sensor.

More than 230,000 JDAM tail kits have been built by Boeing for use by 26 international militaries, since production started in 1998.

Image: The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) extended range variant installed under RAAF’s F/A-18 Hornet during testing at Woomera, South Australia. Photo courtesy of Department of Defence / Commonwealth of Australia.

Defence Technology