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Precision-Guided Munitions Play Key Role

The two 500-pound bombs that took out terrorist leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi June 7
have a long history of development and improvements at the Air Armament Center here.

By U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Valerie Trefts / Air Armament Center Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., June 20, 2006 – The two 500-pound bombs that took out terrorist leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi June 7 have a long history of development and improvements at the Air Armament Center here.

The munitions used were a GBU-38 – a bomb with a tail kit better known as a Joint Direct Attack Munition, which uses inertial navigation and a global positioning system to help ensure the bomb hits the target, and the GBU-12 – a bomb that is laser guided to the target. 

"The precision of these munitions enables the warfighter to hit very specific targets while limiting damage to the surrounding area."

Tom Robillard, 308th ASW director

“With the war being brought into the cities, it is more critical than ever that the capabilities and precision of the munitions developed and tested at Eglin are accurate,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Riemer, Air Armament Center commander and program executive officer for weapons. “The incredible precision of the munitions we've developed helps to ensure collateral damage is kept to a minimum.” 

“The precision-guided GBU-12 and the Joint Direct Attack Munition can be carried on most military fighter aircraft and on the B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers,” said Tom Robillard, 308th Armament Systems Wing director. "The precision of these munitions enables the warfighter to hit very specific targets while limiting damage to the surrounding area."

“For example, a pilot is able to target a specific house, like in the case with Al Zarqawi, and hit the house, without destroying the entire neighborhood,” Robillard explained. “This kind of precision and accuracy is vital to winning the Global War on Terrorism.”   

The Joint Direct Attack Munition, which began development at Eglin in 1992, is a high-tech tail kit that can be put on 2,000-pound, 1,000-pound and 500-pound general purpose bombs to convert them into “smart bombs.” 

“Joint Direct Attack Munition’s high reliability, accuracy and low cost have virtually revolutionized air-to-ground warfare,” said Lt. Col. John Williams, 708th Armament Systems Group deputy director.

“The munition was first used in the 1999 during Operation Allied Force and since then, it has been the weapon of choice for the combatant commanders fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he noted.

Joint Direct Attack Munition accuracy continues to be improved at Eglin with additional system software changes to take advantage of improved GPS features.

In addition, the Air Force is also testing the capability of using Joint Direct Attack Munitions with a datalink to strike moving maritime targets, according to Colonel Williams. 

The GBU-12 has been in the Air Force inventory since 1976 after development at Eglin in the early ‘70s.

The GBU-12, better known as a Laser Guided Bomb, gets to its target by following a laser that is either controlled by someone on the ground or by a pilot in the air.

The GBU-12 was also used during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. What is so unique about the GBU-12 is its low cost, reliability and accuracy, according to center officials. 

“The men and women of the Air Armament Center contributed as members of a total Air Force team,” said Riemer. “As part of One-Air Force Materiel Command our efforts supported those of many others across the command and the Air Force to achieve this success.”

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Sep. 21, 2014
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