Israel to use long-range bombs

Israel Considers Purchasing New Smart Bombs to Hit Targets in Beirut, Damascus
Israel is considering purchasing new and advanced smart bombs with an extended range that would allow jetfighters to strike targets in Damascus and Beirut without leaving Israeli airspace, The Jerusalem Post said.

It said the smart bomb is called JDAM-ER (Joint Direct Attack Munitions-Extended Range) which is under development by Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force.

The JDAM-ER, the Israeli daily added, is a low-cost guidance kit produced by Boeing that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into precision guided "smart" weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail section that contains a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System and body improvements for additional stability and lift.

The ER version of the JDAM consists of an additional set of wings that are installed on the bomb and extend its range from just 15 nautical miles to 55, explained the daily.

"This would provide Israel with unprecedented stand-off capabilities," an industry source told Jerusalem Post. "Planes would not even have to leave Israeli airspace to be able to hit targets in Syria and Lebanon."

The ER version would also be helpful in a long-range strike against Iranian nuclear facilities since it would assist IAF jets in avoiding anti-aircraft defense missiles by allowing pilots to fire bombs from an extended standoff position, it said.

Israel became the first foreign customer to purchase the standard JDAM system in 2000, according to the daily. The kits were then added on to Mk-84, 2,000-pound bombs, turning simple iron bombs into precision, satellite guided weapons.

It said Israel has also recently received new shipments of JDAMs that are capable of using a laser for guidance as well as the standard GPS. It has also purchased a JDAM that is protected against electronic jamming. In addition, Israel recently completed an upgrade of its F-15 fleet to enable all models of the aircraft to carry JDAM bombs. Until now, only the F-15I was capable of carrying the smart bomb.

During Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon, Israeli forces exhausted their stockpile of JDAM bombs and received emergency shipments of thousands of kits from the United States, the newspaper said, adding that the aerial shipments caused an international uproar after one of the planes carrying the kits was routed through Glasgow's Prestwick Airport and reportedly did not fly according to safety and security procedures established by the British Civil Aviation Authority.

JDAM-equipped bombs receive data on the kit's target while still attached to the warplane's computer, the daily clarified. After the jet releases it, it added, a satellite takes over and guides it to its target. This relieves the aircraft and crew from the need to remain in enemy territory to "ride the bomb down" to its target. The system's greatest benefit is its accuracy regardless of weather conditions, day or night.

The JDAM-ER was successfully tested by the Australian air force.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Kevin Holt, JDAM-ER program manager for Boeing, as saying after the test that the JDAM-ER would enter initial production in 2010.

Beirut, 13 Dec 08, 09:37

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