Laser JDAM Tested with 2,000 pound Mk-84 Warhead

Loading Laser JDAM weapons on an F-16 prior to the first combat strike in Iraq, 2008. Photo: US Air Force, by Erik Gudmundson.

Boeing completed the first pair of seven flight tests of the MK-84 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (Laser JDAM) this summer at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as part of the new weapon qualification process. Integration of Laser JDAM will provide these heavy warheads with pinpoint strike precision, utilizing redundant navigation and guidance modes the guidance kit will enable midcourse GPS and terminal laser guidance, providing more effective, flexible attack modes.

Laser JDAM
2000 pound Mk84 weapon fitted with GBU-54 Laser JDAM guidance kit loaded on an F-16 at Eglin Air Force Base, prior to a test flight in July 2010. The Precision Laser Guidance Set (PLGS) at the tip of the weapon is covered, to minimize wear of the transparent window protecting the seeker. Photo: Boeing

In these recent tests the 2,000-pound weapon will engage fixed, relocatable and moving targets. During the first two tests performed in July 2010 two inert MK-84 Laser JDAM weapons were released from an F-16 flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet and a speed of Mach 0.95. Both weapons flew a series of aggressive, preprogrammed maneuvers to verify their maneuverability and aerodynamic performance.

An existing JDAM becomes a Laser JDAM with the installation of the Precision Laser Guidance Set (PLGS). “By adding the PLGS feature, warfighters can now attack relocatable and moving land and maritime targets with the same precision and reliability that they rely on every day with the existing JDAM.” Explains Kerry Bush, JDAM program manager for Boeing. The company has already qualified a lighter version of Laser JDAM – Guided Bomb Unit GBU-54, armed with the 500 pounds Mk82 bomb. Since fielding the weapon in 1998, Boeing has produced more than 215,000 JDAM guidance kits. Laser JDAM was fielded in 2008 and has since been used in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.