Working in alignment with the U.S. Air Force’s PEO Weapons, but spending its own internal R&D funds, Boeing has added an engine and a tail kit to its venerable (430,000 units sold) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) to vastly extend its range and application.
Speaking with DSJ at the AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium, Jim Leary, Boeing’s Director of Sales for Missiles and Weapons Systems, said that the company’s new “Powered JDAM” extends the conventional JDAM’s range about twenty-fold at a fraction of the cost of Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) — sitting at $1.265 million/unit in the Pentagon’s just-submitted FY21 Defense budget request.
Leary notes that Boeing’s work on the Powered JDAM — which features a 500-pound warhead — began as early as 2012 and the system is now ready to bring a unique capability to the fight as the Air Force focuses on anti-access, area denial (A2AD) engagement. “The key with this system is its affordability. There are other systems that can achieve standoff ranges but not at the price point in which we can do it. The price isn’t even comparable.”
Leary explained that, in addition to cost-effectiveness, platform modularity enabling mission flexibility is also an inherent feature of the Powered JDAM. “It’s a low cost truck” he noted, explaining that the Powered JDAM has available space, weight, and power to interchangeably carry seekers and warheads to tailor/increase the system’s lethality and accuracy depending on the requirement. At its low price point, it could also be used a decoy.
Lastly, Leary stressed that because the JDAM is already in the inventory, Powered JDAM integration costs and training costs are low. “This is really easy for the warfighter to plug and play this new capability into the fight.”