Boeing and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a jet turbine-powered kit that turns a standard 500-pound (228 kg) “dumb” iron bomb into a miniature precision cruise missile.

McDonnell Douglas and his partners developed a bolt-on kit in the 1990s that turned standard iron bombs into precision weapons without the need to modify the bomb itself. It is called Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and consists of a guidance system, GPS navigation, search sensors and a tail-mounted guidance system.

Together, these make the standard bomb an accurate all-weather day/night munition capable of landing within 16 feet (5 m) of its target, with the standard JDAM kit’s flight time being less than 100 seconds.

The problem is that the standard JDAM kits only have a range of about 13 nautical miles (16 miles/24 km), while the extended-range version includes a set of folding wings that allow the bomb to travel over more than 40 nautical miles (46 miles/72 miles) to glide km). Since 2010, current manufacturer Boeing has proposed an improved kit called Power JDAM that can extend that range up to 700 nautical miles (805 miles/1,300 km) by incorporating a jet engine, fuel tanks and support systems, essentially turning the bomb into a small bomb convert cruise missile that can serve as a stand-off weapon fired by 4th generation fighters.

That idea fell by the wayside in U.S. defense circles, but it now appears to be making progress after Kratos agreed to provide its TDI-J85 turbine engine, producing 200 pounds of thrust, to power the Power JDAM. According to the company, the proven TDI-J85 will reduce the cost of the kit while still being able to be exported to the 35 countries that use the JDAM. In addition, the motor generates 1.5 kW of alternating current to power the JDAM onboard systems.

“Powered JDAM is the next step in the modular evolution of the JDAM and JDAM Extended Range family of weapon systems,” said Bob Ciesla, vice president of Boeing Precision Engagement Systems. “Its ability to complement exquisite weapons systems (sic) with cost-effective standoff capabilities will add new weapons capabilities to the U.S. defense industrial base to support the current fight and deter future fights.”

Source: Kratos

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