US Air Force F-15E Completes First Successful Maritime GBU-31 JDAM Test
US Air Force F-15E Completes First Successful Maritime GBU-31 JDAM Test

US Air Force F-15E Completes First Successful Maritime GBU-31 JDAM Test

An 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron F-15E Strike Eagle demonstrated maritime GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition release over the Gulf of Mexico Aug. 26. The goal of the test was to validate a new way to employ air-delivered munitions on ships. A Navy submarine has the ability to launch and destroy a ship with a single torpedo, but by launching the weapon it gives away the location of the vessel. This type of demonstration aims to develop a low-cost method of achieving torpedo-like seaworthy kills from the air.

“For any large moving ship, the Air Force’s primary weapon is the 2,000-pound laser guided GBU-24. Not only is this weapon less than ideal, it also reduces our survivability based on how it must be employed. This munition can change all of that ,” said Maj. Andrew Swanson, 85th TES F-15E weapons system officer.

The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) GBU-31 is a tailkit under development to meet both U.S. Air Force and Navy needs, with the Air Force as the lead service. The program will produce a weapon with high accuracy, all-weather, autonomous, conventional bombing capability. JDAM will upgrade the existing inventory of general purpose and penetrator unitary bombs, and a product improvement may add a terminal seeker to improve accuracy. JDAM can be launched from approximately 15 miles from the target and each is independently targeted.

In November 2014, the U.S. Air Force began development of a version of the GBU-31 JDAM intended to track and attack sources of electronic warfare jamming directed to disrupt the munitions’ guidance. The Home-on-Jam seeker works similar to the AGM-88 HARM to follow the source of a radio-frequency jammer to destroy it. This test builds on a previous 53rd Wing test conducted last year. A 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron B-52H Stratofortress dropped JDAMs in order to assess the viability of specific maritime impact conditions.

The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory to equip the F-15E Strike Eagle with modified 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The goal of this test was to validate a new way to employ air-delivered munitions on ships that will change the maritime target lethality paradigm. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin)