Updated May 29th, 2024 at 14:17 IST

U.S. Air Force and Navy to Receive Advanced JDAM Kits in $7.5 Billion Boeing Contract

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $7.5 billion contract to manufacture and supply kits that convert conventional bombs into Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
USAF JDAM Kits | Image:US Air Force
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Washington: The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a substantial contract valued at nearly $7.5 billion to manufacture and supply kits designed to convert conventional bombs into guided munitions known as Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). This agreement will see Boeing providing JDAM tail kits and additional supplies, ensuring that the U.S. military and its allies maintain a robust stockpile of precision-guided weaponry. The Pentagon confirmed this sole-source, fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract on Friday.  

Boeing is set to carry out the production of these JDAM kits, alongside spares, repairs, technical assistance, and laser JDAM sensor kits, at its facility in St. Louis, Missouri. The contract stipulates that work will continue through the end of February 2030. Although the exact number of JDAM kits to be supplied under this contract is still undetermined, it is clear that both the Air Force and Navy will benefit from this procurement, with a portion of the funding also supporting foreign military sales.  

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Enhancing Precision and Flexibility  

JDAMs are created by attaching guidance tail kits to unguided "dumb" bombs, which range in weight from 500 to 2,000 pounds. These tail kits include a navigational system and a GPS guidance control unit, allowing the bombs to be accurately directed from an aircraft to ground targets, even under adverse weather conditions. The cost of each JDAM kit varies from approximately $25,000 to $84,000, depending on the annual quantity purchased by the Air Force.

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The contract also addresses the need for laser JDAM sensor kits, enhancing the versatility and precision of these munitions. These advanced capabilities are crucial for the U.S. military, particularly as it faces increasing demands to maintain its arsenal and support allies such as Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel.  

Strategic Importance of JDAM Kits  

The decision to award this contract comes amidst growing concerns over the U.S. military's ability to sustain its munitions stockpile. Defence firms are grappling with shortages in workforce and materials, which constrain the production capacity of critical munitions. General CQ Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, highlighted in March the importance of carefully balancing the provision of weapons to allies with maintaining readiness and stockpile levels for U.S. forces. 

The Air Force has previously faced challenges in maintaining sufficient munitions, including JDAMs, during conflicts such as the war against the Islamic State. The service significantly increased its JDAM purchases in recent years, with 30,872 units acquired in 2019, 24,794 in 2020, and 17,300 in 2021. However, procurement levels have since decreased, underscoring the importance of this new contract in replenishing and sustaining the munitions inventory.  

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Meeting Global and Domestic Needs  

In addition to supporting U.S. military operations, this contract will also benefit foreign military customers. Approximately $228.2 million of the contract's value is allocated for foreign military sales, ensuring that allied nations receive the necessary JDAM supplies to bolster their defence capabilities.

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Boeing has a history of supporting the U.S. military's JDAM program. In September 2021, the Navy awarded the company a $344.6 million contract modification to provide up to 24,000 precision laser guidance sets for the laser JDAM program. Earlier this year, in January 2023, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $40.5 million contract for JDAM wing kits. 

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Published May 29th, 2024 at 14:17 IST