Watch the Skies — Ukraine Now Has the JDAM Smart Bomb

Wes O'Donnell
3 min readMar 7, 2023
JDAMs loaded under the left wing of an F-16 Fighting Falcon, with a LITENING II Targeting Pod visible beneath the fuselage. Public domain.

First reported by The War Zone, yesterday at the 2023 Air and Space Force Association’s Warfare Symposium in Aurora, Colorado, USAF Gen. James Hecker confirmed Ukraine’s acceptance and use of the JDAM-ER smart bomb.

The JDAM-ER stands for Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range and is one of the United States’ top all-weather precision-guided munitions.

The JDAM guidance kit converts unguided bombs, or “dumb gravity bombs” into smart ones.

JDAM made its debut during Operation Allied Force where B-2 Spirit stealth bombers launched 651 JDAMs with 96% reliability and hit 87% of intended targets.

According to The War Zone, the complete JDAM kit consists of a new tail for the dumb bomb, which contains a GPS-assisted inertial navigation system (INS) guidance system, and strakes that go elsewhere along the bomb body giving it a limited ability to glide to its designated target.

A normal JDAM can hit targets up to 15 miles away. But the JDAM-ER (extended range) that Ukraine received can extend that range to 50 miles. Plus, the JDAM is a “fire and forget” weapon, meaning after deployment, the Ukrainian fighter can turn around and get the heck out of Dodge.

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Wes O'Donnell

US Army & US Air Force Veteran | Global Security guy at War is Boring, GEN, OneZero | Intel Forecaster | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | +Democracy | +Human Rights