Friday, February 3, 2023

Ukraine’s Counter-Offensive Against Russia To Get ‘Smarter’ As US Mulls Arming Kyiv With JDAM Smart Bomb Kits

The US military is currently examining the possibility of sending smart bomb kits to Ukraine as a constant barrage of Russian missiles crumples the critical infrastructure, including power grids of the war-torn country.

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The Biden administration is preparing to deliver Ukraine cutting-edge electronic equipment that transforms unguided aircraft ordnance into “smart bombs” that can target Russian military installations with a high degree of accuracy, reported The Washington Post, citing senior US sources.

The kits may be bolted onto various weapons and include global positioning systems for precision, creating what the Pentagon refers to as a Joint Direct Attack Munition or JDAM.

The US military has employed the technology on bombs up to 2,000 pounds in weight, typically on a bomber and fighter aircraft.

File:US Navy 041123-N-4308O-075 The GBU-38 is a 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) that uses a standard Mk-82 bomb, and was developed for precision bombing in urban warfare.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
The GBU-38 is a 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) that uses a standard Mk-82 bomb and is developed for precision bombing in urban warfare – Wikimedia Commons.

It was unclear immediately if President Biden or any of his top national security advisers had consented to the anticipated transfer of JDAMs to Ukraine. Besides, it is too soon to know whether the Ukrainian troops would integrate the weapon into any Soviet-era aircraft or a ground-based weapon system.

Ukraine has constantly been pleading with NATO countries for Western fighter jets. However, the West has collectively been reluctant for fear of escalation with Russia. Instead, it has offered to upgrade and maintain the existing aging fighters in Ukraine’s inventory.

The move to deliver JDAMs could be significant given that the United States is also in the final stages of working out a plan to send the much-needed Patriot missile defense systems.

EurAsian Times had previously reported that an announcement for Patriots would likely be made this week, following which Ukrainian troops will begin training on the system in Germany.

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File Image: Patriot-3 missile defense system

With Russia bracing up to bombard Ukraine using the ballistic missile that it is set to acquire from Iran, the addition of Patriot missile defense and guided smart bombs would be a very significant addition to Kyiv’s arsenal.

Earlier, Reuters had reported in late November that the Pentagon was evaluating a Boeing proposal to provide Ukraine with inexpensive, small precise bombs placed onto readily accessible rockets, enabling Kyiv to strike far behind Russian lines. The bomb proposed by Boeing was the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB).

Joint Direct Attack Munition For Ukraine

Any existing dumb bomb weighing up to 2,000 kilograms can be fitted with a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kit. The kits include a flight control unit, wings, aerodynamic surfaces, and satellite navigation devices to aid in the glide and maneuvering of the bomb.

JDAM Smart Bomb Kits

Ukrainian Air Force jets avoid Russian Integrated Air Defense Systems by flying at low altitudes, which significantly impacts the ability of an explosive to strike the designated target accurately. However, the JDAM kits could enable the Ukrainian fighters to toss bombs with pinpoint accuracy, extending their standoff distance.

As Indian Air Force veteran Squadron Leader Vijainder K Thakur (retd) explains – “For toss bombing, a fighter aircraft flying at high speed below radar detection height sharply pulls up and releases a bomb in a steep climb. The technique increases the standoff range due to an altered ballistic trajectory & limits exposure to enemy air defense.

“Fitted with JDAM kits that give it the ability to glide, even a Soviet-origin dumb bomb from Ukrainian inventory, released using toss bombing, would achieve substantial range with pinpoint accuracy.”

The JDAM independently finds the assigned target coordinates after being released from the aircraft. Before releasing a weapon, the aircrew can manually change the target coordinates, and after the plane has taken off, onboard sensors can automatically enter the target coordinates.

When GPS data is available, the JDAM system will deliver a weapon circular error probability of five meters or less while in free flight. For free flight periods of up to 100 seconds with a GPS quality handoff from the aircraft, the JDAM will accomplish a 30-meter CEP or less if GPS data is denied.

JDAM can be launched in a dive, toss, loft, and straight and level flight with an on-axis or off-axis delivery from extremely low to very high altitudes. JDAM facilitates using numerous weapons against one or more targets in a single pass.

The US Air Force widely used the bomb in Operation Allied Forces, more popularly known as the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia.

The JDAM will significantly improve Ukraine’s capability and allow it to hit hidden Russian military targets very well-protected by air defenses. It would also further push Russia, which has already been left flustered by the long-range strike conducted by Ukraine on Engels and Dyagilevo Air Base deep inside its territory.

Above all, it could be another game-changing weapon provided by the United States to Ukraine besides the HIMARS and the HARMs, which have allowed the embattled country to hold the fort against Moscow.

 

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