This video of an F-15E Strike Eagle refueling over Iraq exposes an unusual loadout of 2,000 lb bombs

This is a quite unusual loadout: at least three GBU-31 bunker buster bombs.

The footage below exposes something interesting.

It shows a KC- 135 from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, refueling F-15E Strike Eagles over Iraq on Mar. 17.

Noteworthy, one of the Strike Eagles (from 391st FS from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho) taking fuel from the Stratotanker during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve features a quite unusual loadout (compared to previous operations and OIR as well): at least 3x GBU-31(v)3/B 2,000-lb bombs.

The F-15E can carry as many as five GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition).

The JDAM is a GPS aided inertially guided bomb. The Guidance and Control Unit (GCU) containing a HG1700 RLG, GEM-III GPS receiver and computer package is installed inside the bomb tailkit. The GCU is used on the bunker busting 2,000-lb class BLU-109/B penetrator warhead.

On Apr. 30, 2011, an air strike conducted by a NATO jet against a bunker in Tripoli killed Gaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, with three minor grandchildren. The images of an unexploded BL-109 warhead in the ruins of Gadhafi’s house later appeared on several media outlets, suggesting the raid had been carried out using a GBU-31.

The one filmed in the clip shows two GBU-31s on the left inboard CFT (Conformal Fuel Tank) weapons stations (dubbed LCT-1 and LCT-3) and one on the centerline station (STA-5). It’s not clear whether the remaining two stations on the right CFT (RCT-1 and RCT-3) are empty because the 2,000-lb bombs have already been dropped, possibly against some Daesh underground hideout.

The GBU-31s are assembled at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. In December 2015, a team of nearly 60 Munitions airmen set a record, building almost 4,000 bombs since July 2015, surpassing the previous one by more than 1,600!

A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 17. The bombs were built by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. The Munitions Flight has built nearly 4,000 bombs since July 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)
A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 17. The bombs were built by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. The Munitions Flight has built nearly 4,000 bombs since July 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)
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About David Cenciotti 3632 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.