On Aug. 26, the Air Force Research Laboratory demonstrated the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition, a guided bomb that could in practice sink an opposing ship. Three F-15E Strike Eagle fighters were armed with dummy versions of the weapon and tried out various ways to deploy it over the Gulf of Mexico.
“For any large moving ship, the Air Force’s primary weapon is the 2,000-pound laser guided GBU-24,” Maj. Andrew Swanson, 85th TES F-15E weapons system officer, said in a statement. “Not only is this weapon less than ideal, it also reduces our survivability based on how it must be employed. This munition can change all of that.”
Col. Anthony Meeks, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory's munitions directorate, told Military.com that the tests were created to determine whether soldiers were able to drop the bombs on “different aim points to defeat maritime threats.”
The “aim points” are targets the bombers could aim for, including the top of a vessel, the waterline, or below the surface.
The Air Force press release noting the trial run also explained that a Navy submarine has the capability to destroy a ship “with a single torpedo,” but it added that doing so “gives away the location of the vessel,” which is why this new bomb, deployed aerially, could provide an advantage.
“This type of demonstration aims to develop a low-cost method of achieving torpedo-like seaworthy kills from the air,” the statement read.
The military’s decision to do the test run came around the same time the United States withdrew all of the remaining troops out of Afghanistan. The U.S. spent most of this century fighting on land, though that could change with rivals like China having considerable naval forces.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Air Force tests out guided bomb to take out ships