By Marina Malenic
Boeing [BA] yesterday announced its first foreign sale of a laser-guided variant of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), currently in service only with the U.S. Air Force and Navy.
Germany has purchased the Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions (LJDAM) for its fleet of Tornado fighter aircraft. Boeing was unable to release cost and quantity details under the terms of the agreement, but delivery is expected to begin next summer. The order includes options for additional kits later in the year, according to Boeing spokesman Tim Deaton.
LJDAM consists of the standard JDAM guidance tailkit and a Precision Laser Guidance Set (PLGS) kit that acquires and tracks laser target signals. Like the traditional JDAM, the weapon is designed for precision engagement of stationary targets. Unlike the non-laser variant, it can also destroy targets moving up to 70 mph.
Deaton said “many other countries” have expressed interest in the weapon.
“We expect additional orders before the year is out,” he told Defense Daily during a brief telephone interview.
Boeing delivered the first LJDAM kits to the U.S. Air Force in April.
Both Air Force and Navy commanders had expressed an urgent need for an air-to-surface missile capable of engaging fast-moving targets. The $28 million contract, awarded in May 2007, added 600 laser seekers to the services’ existing inventory of conventional 500-pound bombs.
“The kits have all been delivered,” said Deaton. “They have been fielded, but we have no information yet about their use.”
The Air Force tested production units in March at the China Lake, Calif., test range, according to Boeing. They were launched from F-15E and F-16 aircraft. The Navy also tested it in March, carrying out multiple drops from an AV-8B and an F/A-18.