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

May 12 2016 - 6 Comments

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)

  • McPosterdoor

    Snazzy conformal fuel tanks!

  • TheEvilBlight

    Interesting find. ISIS has bunkers that need dropping? Might they be hiding in water delivery/drain pipes, canal systems, or sewer lines? Or is the target a HAS shelter on an old Iraqi military base?

    Otherwise, the popular stereotype about ISIS is that they are surface dwellers that conceal themselves by intermixing amongst civilian populations, moreso than attempting to separate themselves via distance/fortification (which makes it easier for PGM to knock them out with minimal collateral damage).

  • sferrin

    Strangest I’ve seen were 4 2,000lb LGBs, two on each CFT. 2 5000lb GBU-28s would be the second strangest.

  • Curious

    Where are you seeing three 2,000 lb. bombs? All I see are two AMRAAM and one bomb. The bomb looks smaller than the 2,000 lbs. bombs in the hangar photo, but I can’t be sure.

    • ODM

      Man, you must either be blind, or you didnt watch the included video….
      The aircraft is clearly carrying 3 of said weapons.
      Glad you’re not a fighter pilot

  • Austin Fifield

    It was noted in December and mentioned “since July” which would be about 5 months or 150 days, so about 27 bombs a day.