May. 7, 2013 By NIGEL PITTAWAY - Defense news
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — While Australia uses a variety of air-launched precision weapons it has not developed any such weapons beyond a wing kit for the GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), which are used on its F/A-18A/B Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighters.
The wing kit is manufactured in Australia and marketed by Boeing.
The wing kit was originally developed by Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in 2006 under a government-funded capability and technology demonstrator program known as Kerkanya, an Aboriginal word for kestrel hawk.
Boeing Australia was selected to manufacture and market the product, now called the JDAM-ER, and the Royal Australian Air Force became the first customer in 2011.
On March 13, Boeing announced it had selected Ferra Engineering of Brisbane to manufacture the kits on its behalf.
“The first wing kits will be used for JDAM-ER flight tests scheduled to be conducted later this year,” said Mike Kelly, minister for defense materiel. “Initial production orders are expected to be completed by 2015 and this program provides potential for further worldwide sales and exports.”
JDAM-ER utilizes a strap-on wing kit that pops-out after separation, significantly increasing stand-off range. During trials with two weapons in 2006, both struck within 1.5 meters of their intended target after a 40-kilometer-plus glide.
Australia is also the only country in Asia-Pacific other than the United States to use both the Lockheed Martin AGM-158A Joint Air to Surface Strike Missile (JASSM) and Raytheon AGM-154C Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW).
JASSM was acquired to provide the F/A-18A/B Hornet force with a precision stand-off strike capability between the retirement of the F-111C/AGM-142 combination in December 2010 and introduction of the F-35A, now due later in the decade.
Australia also became the first US Ally to operationally test the AGM-154C JSOW, with the successful launch of missile from an RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet in December 2010. JSOW was acquired with the purchase of the 24 Super Hornets, again as a bridging capability between F-111C retirement and F-35A introduction, as it is a US Navy-standard weapon.
The upgraded AGM-154C-1is also being purchased for Australia’s Super Hornets, with final deliveries expected in 2014.