Ukraine Developing JDAM-like Tail Kits for Soviet Era Bombs

Last year, Ukraine outfitted its MiG-29s with the ER (Extended Range) version of the JDAM kit.
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  • 07:10 AM, June 10, 2024
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Ukraine Developing JDAM-like Tail Kits for Soviet Era Bombs
Ukrainian MiG-29 carrying JDAM-ER 500-pound bomb @Ukrainian Air Force via Militarnyi

Ukraine is set to begin testing a domestically developed guidance kit, similar to the U.S.-made JDAM, that converts unguided bombs, or "dumb bombs," into precision-guided munitions.

This initiative was revealed in an interview with Serhiy Golubotsov, the chief of aviation of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

According to Golubotsov, Ukrainian engineers are currently working on high-precision kits designed for Soviet-era aviation bombs. These kits aim not only to enhance accuracy but also to increase the flight range of the bombs, thanks to the addition of two wing-like consoles. The first tests of this domestic kit are expected to commence in a few weeks.

Successful testing and subsequent mass production of these high-precision bombs would bolster Ukraine's capability to intensify their use on the front lines. However, there are technical challenges to overcome, particularly in selecting the right transmitters, GPS modules, and wings. Ensuring the equipment is well-protected against enemy electronic warfare systems is crucial for maintaining high accuracy when targeting enemy rear positions.

For over a year, Ukraine has employed the ER (Extended Range) version of the JDAM kit, boasting a target range of 72.4 kilometers. While the precise nomenclature of the ammunition remains undisclosed, it's evident from published photos that 500 lb (230 kg) versions are in use. These bombs have been integrated into MiG-29 fighter jets.

Additionally, Golubotsov emphasized the need for certain modifications to the aircraft that will carry these weapons, to partially integrate the bombs into the existing weapons control systems.

The Ukrainian Air Force has previously adapted Soviet combat aircraft to utilize American GBU-39 aerial bombs. The GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) is a lightweight, high-precision munition weighing 130 kilograms, with a diameter of about 190 mm and a length of approximately 1.8 meters. When released from a high altitude, it boasts a maximum flight range of up to 110 kilometers.

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