Daily Newsletter

22 May 2024

Daily Newsletter

Canada purchase JDAM guidance tail kits in US FMS deal

Once released from the aircraft, the precise JDAM weapon autonomously navigates to the designated target coordinates.

John Hill May 22 2024

Canada’s request to purchase Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits in a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement worth $96.4m (C$1.3bn)has been approved by the US State Department.

Meanwhile, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency has delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on 21 May 2024.

Under this new request the Canadian Air Force will be kitted with 690 KMU-572 JDAM kits, 75 KMU-556s and 25 KMU-557s.

It should be noted that this latest purchase builds on the many JDAMs Canada had ordered previously, worth $16.1m – $11.8m of this previous tranche were classed as ‘major defence equipment’, which remained below the $25m threshold needed to notify Congress of the deal.

To date, the total number of JDAM equipment to be delivered to Canada includes 900 KMU-572s, 125 KMU-556s, and 50 KMU-557s.

Also included are illuminated target detectors; FMU-139 fuses; weapons support equipment; spare and repair parts, consumables and accessories, and repair and return support; publications and technical documentation; studies and surveys; US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services.

What are JDAMs?

The JDAM is an air-to-surface guidance tail kit that converts conventional, unguided free-fall bombs into accurate, adverse weather ‘smart’ munitions. These systems have been in US production since 1998.

With the addition of a new tail section that contains an inertial navigational system and a global positioning system guidance control unit, JDAM improves the accuracy of unguided, general purpose bombs in any weather condition.

JDAM is a joint US Air Force and Department of Navy programme.

A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies over Fort McCoy, Wisconsin where F-16s dropped 500-pound JDAMs for the first time, 13 August 2021. Credit: DVIDS.

How will Canada use them?

Strangely, none of the Canadian Air Force aircraft are capability of integrating JDAMs at all. However, the service is eyeing the F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft to replace its 76 F/A-18A/B Hornet jets.

With the largest investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 30 years, the government is acquiring 88 F-35 fighter aircraft, at a cost of $19bn. The first of these modern aircraft is scheduled for delivery by 2026.

As the service awaits its new combat aircraft, the US defence industrial base is still in the process of evaluating the compatibility of JDAM with the F-35 as well as the A-10 and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle.

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