[Photo] Super Hornet with double 2,000-lb GBU-31s payload launches for ISIS airstrike

Feb 14 2015 - 8 Comments

An interesting shot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet carrying double GBU-31 JDAMs payload.

The image in this post depicts an F/A-18E Super Hornet belonging to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 “Sunliners” launching from the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as the ship conducts flight operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

What makes the photograph interesting is the rather unusual loadout of the aircraft: two 2,000-lb GBU-31s carried under the right hand wing.

GBU-31s are heavy JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), Mk-84 general purpose gravity bombs which integrate a GPS/INS guidance kit to improve accuracy and are suitable for those targets where adverse weather may affect laser guidance.

JDAMs autonomously navigate towards their designated target coordinates that can be loaded into the aircraft before take off, or manually or automatically entered through the onboard targeting system.

Although the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet carry JDAMs and, in particular, GBU-31s as a standard payload, you won’t find many images showing other “Rhinos” (as the Super Hornet is nicknamed in the U.S. Navy community) carrying two heavy 2,000-lb GBU-31s under the same wing: a sign that the coalition is still looking for targets in Syria and Iraq which require a significant destructive power and blast radius.

Generally speaking, U.S. Navy jets as well as other coalition aircraft carry a mixed-payload which may include lighter JDAMs and LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs), for more flexibility against targets of opporunity.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


  • Matt

    Could there be one or two more JDAMs under the left wing, out of view in the picture?

  • I’m assuming they have another pair on the port wing to balance out the load and that’s a lot of hurt for ISIS. I couldn’t think of a more deserving target.

    • Tomcat

      Has to, right? I mean it would either be unwieldy at takeoff or unwieldy after launch. Unless they can counter balance with fuel somehow?

  • neckbeardthepirate

    She may be old, but she can still give me a war boner.

  • Aussieblokeadz

    Got a place to be i reckon!!

  • Velvet Metal

    They should use “daisy cutters”, they were renowned for huge psychological effect they had on the Iraqi army.

    • There’s none left and MOABs just don’t have the same effect. I agree though, the BLU-82 Commando Vault would have its uses. Unfortunately, the MC-130s that drop that would be super vulnerable given that ISIS may in fact possess a capable MANPAD threat.

  • big john ok

    I live with 20 miles of the largest joint service conventional munitions depot (MCAAP) in the US and they are constantly blowing up old stock.

    I would rather see that inventory used instead of being detonated in a big bomb pit.