Photos posted online show the bomb’s Mk-80 series body and part of its glide kit, as well as a Storm Shadow missile carried by a Su-24 using a modified pylon from the Tornado GR4.
New photos of western weapons installed on the Ukrainian Soviet-era jets emerged online, showing for the first time the JDAM-ER (Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range) guided bomb and a close-up of the pylon used to carry the Storm Shadow cruise missile. While the Storm Shadow was already shown both in videos of combat employment and photos while carried by Ukrainian jets, the JDAM-ER’s presence and employment in Ukraine was acknowledged but no photo/video evidence was available.
In fact, in March 2023, US and Ukrainian officials confirmed the delivery and the combat employment of the weapon, respectively, but the weapon was never seen on a Ukrainian aircraft and a couple of videos showing supposed JDAM-ER bombs were not useful for identification. That changed when the Ukrainian Air Force published a post to thank the United States on their Independence Day, showing the guided bomb installed on a MiG-29, together with an AGM-88 HARM missile and Patriot and NASAMS launchers.
🇺🇸TOGETHER TO VICTORY🇺🇦
4th July US Independence Day!
“On behalf of the 🇺🇦 Air Force staff I have the honor to congratulate the 🇺🇸 people on this most important date in the history of the 🇺🇸!
✌️Freedom and democracy must be well armed!”
Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk pic.twitter.com/eLCiLWFynb
— Ukrainian Air Force (@KpsZSU) July 4, 2023
The photos clearly show the Mk-80 series bomb body, as well as part of the glide kit of the JDAM-ER. The JDAM kits are usually installed on the 500 lb Mk-82, the 1000 lb Mk-83 and the 2000 lb Mk-84 bombs, but US officials did not disclose which one would be used in Ukraine together with the GPS-guidance kit. From the photos we can’t precisely tell the size of the weapon, however the Ukrainian website Militarnyi identifies them as Mk-82 bombs.
The kit combines a pop-out wing kit with the well-know GPS tail guide kit, improving the stand-off capabilities of the weapon. Compared to the standard JDAM which can reach up to 15 miles, the Extended Range variant can hit targets 45 miles away, keeping the launching aircraft further away from enemy air defenses. Just like the AGM-88 HARM, it appears that the JDAM has been installed on the inner pylons of the MiG-29’s wings, but it is not known what it is being used to load it on the jet.
Another photo published few days ago on Twitter show a weapon that we have already seen in Ukraine, the British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles. The photo show for the first time how the Storm Shadow is being carried by the Su-24, and it appears that the British are not only suppling the missiles, but also the pylons that were used to install it below the fuselage of the Tornado GR4.
British-supplied Storm Shadow ALCM on a Ukrainian Su-24 strike aircraft. pic.twitter.com/pCvFz3NeJ7
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) July 1, 2023
The pylon has been modified, adding support beams to attach it on the Su-24’s pylons and removing the part in excess which was not actively used to carry the weapon. In fact, the Storm Shadow support lugs are attached to the central part of the Tornado’s pylon, so the part in excess was removed and replaced by the end cap usually seen in the front of the weapon.
As we already mentioned, the Storm Shadow was already seen in multiple occasions under the Su-24’s wings, and the missiles debris were extensively shown on social medias. How it was carried and used was never disclosed, even if British officials said it required a lengthy integration work. The missile is also seen with multiple cables attached to its guidance section, which might be used to load target coordinates before the flight, leaving to the pilots only the actual launch operation.
Ukrainian Su-24M armed with a pair of UK-supplied Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missiles. pic.twitter.com/NcMMhQu8Jf
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 3, 2023
The Storm Shadow is not the only Western weapon in Ukraine using its original launcher, as we already seen the same with the AGM-88 HARM. In fact, after initial photos and videos where the pylon was blurred, videos eventually emerged online showing the HARM loaded on the MiG-29 with its standard LAU-118 missile launcher and a custom rack used to attach it to the MiG-29’s pylon. With this being said, it is possible that a similar work was done with the JDAM-ER, maybe using the standard MAU-12 ejector rack normally used on the F-15 and F-16.
Also our first real look at the custom pylon adaptor to allow a Soviet built MiG-29 to mount the US LAU-118 launch rail for the AGM-88 HARM pic.twitter.com/0HVQmBqV8L
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) September 15, 2022