Reaper drone tests GBU-38 JDAM bomb

By Stephen Carlson  |  May 8, 2017 at 2:56 PM
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May 8 (UPI) -- The M-9 Reaper has been outfitted to be able to drop the GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition. The testing was undertaken by the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and the 26th Weapons Wing out of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

"We had a great opportunity to drop the first live GBU-38s in training," Capt. Scott, a 26th WPS weapons instructor pilot, said in a press release. "The GBU-38 is a weapon we've been trying to get on the MQ-9 for several years now and we had the opportunity to be the first to drop during training."

"The GBU-38, just like the Hellfire and GBU-12, is a very accurate weapon and the fact that it's GPS-guided gives us another versatile way to guide the weapon, specifically, through inclement weather onto targets," Scott said.

The JDAM system is an economical one compared to expensive strike weapons like cruise missiles and laser guided bombs. The system, a tail kit, attaches to unguided free-fall bombs and converts them to GPS-guided targeting packages at relatively low cost.

"Our job at the weapons school is to train to the highest standard possible," Scott said. "We're going to take the GBU-38 and incorporate it into our advanced scenarios, prove the weapon and integrate with all Air Force assets. What that gives us is the ability to take it downrange and employ in the most demanding circumstances possible."

The MQ-9 Reaper is one of the premier attack drones used by the U.S. military and CIA and is built by General Atomics. It can carry Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb JDAMs, and a variety of other systems related to strikes and surveillance over a range of 1,150 miles.

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