Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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US Air Force and Navy Running Short of Bombs to Attack ISIS; Want Boost in Bomb Production


(Photo : US Navy) JDAMs aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy are running short of smart bombs due to continuous aerial bombing operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and are asking The Boeing Company to accelerate production of these weapons.

Both armed services want more bomb kits amid declining stockpiles of Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits. JDAM is a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs, or "dumb bombs," into all-weather "smart" munitions.

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JDAM-equipped bombs are guided by an integrated inertial guidance system coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. The laser-guided JDAM was first delivered in 2008.

The Air Force in December 2015 revealed bomb stockpiles were falling on account of the stepped-up pace of the air war, which began in 2014. It's flying more than half the sorties for Operation Inherent Resolve, the name of the operation against ISIS.

The stockpiles were strained further when the U.S. began sharing smart bombs with coalition partners. As a result, some 80 smart bombs a day were being dropped on ISIS.

"We're ramping significantly across the portfolio, not just with JDAM," said Cindy Gruensfelder, Boeing's director of direct attack munitions.

She said Boeing will be on track by July to boost JDAM production to 150 tail kits a day, or over 36,500 tail kits per year. Gruensfelder said Boeing is looking to exceed the 36,000 kit annual production ceiling because of international partner requests.

The ramp-up began last July when an average of 130 tail kits a day were being produced. Boeing has produced more than 300,000 JDAM kits.

Production of the popular GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs) will also increase. Boeing, which makes the GBU-39 kit, currently produces 1,000 units a year.

Boeing expects to produce 5,000 units a year for the next lot, with the potential of 8,000 the following year.

SDB is a 110 kg precision-guided glide bomb that provides aircraft with the ability to carry a larger number of smart bombs. Most Air Force aircraft will be able to carry a pack of four SDBs in place of a single 907 kg bomb.

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