Tag Archives: Joint Direct Attack Munition

[Video] One day in the life of an F-16 pilot: low flying, live firing, anti-ship training

Join Norwegian Air Force pilot Morten Hanche, call-sign “Dolby” from the 338 Sqdn based at Ørland Main Air Station, Norway, on a training sortie featuring low flying, live firing activity and simulated attacks against the Navy ship.

Here’s an interesting video, shot from the cockpit of a Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-16A MLU from 338 Sqn, showing a mission flown with AIM-120B AMRAAM, AIM-2000 IRIS-T, GBU-54 JDAM from Ørland Main Air Station.

The mission features low level flying over Eikesdalvatnet, live firing of an IRIS-T against a Banshee drone over the Halten shootingrange, ultra-low level flying over the sea for a simulated attack on a warship, and return to base in formation with another “Viper.”

H/T to Matt Fanning and Lars-Gunnar Holmström for the heads-up


Stunning image captures a split second before a GBU-10 bomb dropped by a B-1 hits a small boat at sea

On Sept. 4, the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron sent a solo B-1B over the Gulf of Mexico and its sea ranges to prove the concept that Lancers (or “Bones” as the swing wing bombers are dubbed) can be used to attack surface targets whilst at sea; in other words, the goal of the mission was to assess and improve the B-1’s capabilities.

According to the Dyess AFB website the B-1 released six munitions, including a 500lb GBU-54 laser guided bomb as well as 500lb and 2000lb  joint direct attack munitions (JDAM).

Lt. Col. Alejandro Gomez, 337th TES special projects officer said: “This evaluation solidifies what our crew members have already known: We can strike surface targets. The knowledge we gain from these events gives combatant commanders assurance that we can be called upon to complete the mission.”

The mission, called a “a maritime tactics development and evaluation” or TD&E ,saw the B-1 being given the goal of detect, target and engage small boats using currently fielded and available weapons, released in all weather conditions.

The dramatic photo in this post was taken during the mission and shows that the B-1 was very effective in doing its goals: the term “using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut” springs to mind as the GBU-10 is captured a split second before annihilating a small rigid hulled boat.

The Bone would give a group of Pirates a very bad day!

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com


Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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U.S. Navy UCLASS drone requirements leaked

A U.S. Navy document has revealed the requirements that would be the guideline for UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike) drone program.

Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

The key performance perimeters (KPPs) selected for the program, leaked to the press, are the operational range and maximum price.

UCLASS drones are to be introduced in the U.S. Navy by 2020. The contest for the drone is to be conducted in 2014. When it comes to KPP the minimum range of the drone is 600 Nautical Miles, and price per orbit has not to exceed $150 million. Keeping in mind that multiple UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) are required to keep a single orbit, this means that the flyaways cost includes the amount of drones needed to ensure the capability to patrol 600 miles away from a carrier in a 24 hour period; it does not mean a single drone will cost 150 million USD.

The UCLASS has to have ability to have operational radius of 1200 NM with aerial refueling.

Some more details about the UCLASS payload also have leaked: drones will have to be able to carry 1,360 kg of armament, one third to be air-to-ground weapons. 500 lbs JDAM bombs should constitute the basic munition for the drone.

Drones will be still just a complement for traditional manned aircraft, as the payload of UAS is much smaller than that of conventional fighters.

Obviously, there is still much to do when it comes use drones in combat. Or even in peacetime, as there is a large scope of problems involved in the issue of drones flying in the open airspace with civilian traffic.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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Photo: F-35’s first in-flight weapon release (of a huge 2,000 pound GBU-31 JDAM)

On Oct. 16, a conventional take off and landing (CTOL) version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, completed the first weapon drop, releasing a huge 2,000 pound GBU-31 BLU-109 warhead Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

Flown by U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Phillips, the F-35A AF-1, dropped the bomb over the China Lake test range from the left internal weapons bay.

The F-35A is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations, four of those are internal to maximize the aircraft’s stealthiness (obviously, anything carried on the six underwing pylons make the aircraft a bit less radar evading…).

Image credit: Lockheed Martin photo by Matt Short

There was a time when the F-14 Tomcat was better at bombing Iraqi ground targets than the F-15E Strike Eagle

On Sept. 22, 2006 after 36 years of service, the last F-14 Tomcat was retired by its main operator, the US Navy, at NAS Oceana. Although six years have passed since then, there are many unknown facts to be told or simply to be remembered about the last Grumman’s (now Northrop-Grumman) fighter.

One of these often untold stories dates back to Apr. 2003 when, in the midst of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the Tomcats of the VF-154 Black Knights were embarked aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) ordered to VF-154 to detach five of its F-14A (BuNos 158620, 161296, 161288, 161292 and 158624) and five of its crews to Al Udeid air base, in Qatar. This was the first time in history that US Navy aircraft were tasked to fight a war from both ashore and at sea at the same time.

The five Black Knights’ Tomcats were dedicated to provide Forward Air Controller (Airborne) or FAC(A) and Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance (SCAR) for Coalition fast jets (such as USAF F-16CGs and F-16CJs, RAAF F/A-18As and RAF Tornado GR-4s) deployed to Al Udeid.

The VF-154 Tomcats crews also had to train USAF F-15E crews to conduct FAC(A) and SCAR missions.

During this shore-based period a VF-154 F-14A (BuNo 158620 callsign “Nite 104”) crashed because he suffered a single engine and fuel transfer system failure forcing the crew to eject.

However during this special period the five Black Knights’ crews were able to accomplish more than 300 combat hours dropping more than 50,000 lbs of ordnance.

These results were possible even if the Tomcat had some disadvantages when compared directly to some of the attack planes mentioned above: for example, the Strike Eagle has a maximum payload far superior than the one of the Tomcat and the F-14A could only employ Laser Guided Bombs (LGB) and it was not able to use Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) due to a lack of a digital databus (the Bs and Ds-models Tomcat could use JDAMs).

Still, the F-14 had also some advantages: the AN/AAQ-25 LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting, Infrared, for Night) pod used by Tomcat crews was more capable than the USAF’s AN/AAQ-14 and also than the first AN/AAQ-28s Litening II. In fact the AN/AAQ-25 provided the Tomcat with the capability to point the pod to chosen waypoints without the employment of radar, an ability that the F-15E didn’t have. The F-14s were also equipped with a Programmable Tactical Information Display System (PTIDS) and 20 cm X 20cm screen that provided the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) with a better display than the Weapons System Officer (WSO) in the F-15E.

All these features made the F-14 a really impressive attack platform- as a Tomcat driver once explained: “With the Strike Eagle you can put the bomb on the building. With the Tomcat you’ re putting the bomb into the third window from the left, from miles away”.

Dario Leone for The Aviationist.com

Image credit: U.S. Navy