Supersonic JDAM drop marks increase in Raptor capability
Supersonic JDAM Drop Marks Increase in Raptor
By Christopher Ball, 95th Air
Base Wing Public Affairs
Edwards Air Force Base, California --. (AFPN)
July 25, 2005 -- As the midafternoon sun blazed on the Mojave Desert and
thunderclouds loomed in the distance, a sleek dark gray war bird took to the sky
to push the envelope of flight testing.
F/A-22 Raptor releases a guided bomb unit-32 1,000-pound JDAM
At the controls, Maj. John Teichert, a 411th Flight Test
Squadron test pilot, pushed the F/A-22 Raptor past Mach 1, opened the weapons
bay and released a guided bomb unit-32 1,000-pound joint direct attack munition,
marking the first time a Raptor has dropped a JDAM at supersonic speed.
"Qualifying the Raptor to release GPS-guided bombs at supersonic speeds is a
significant milestone for the program," Major Teichert said. "Releasing a bomb
under such conditions provides a notable increase in Raptor tactical
The GBU-32 separation test vehicle that was released is the same size, shape and
weight as a real bomb, but without the guidance kit.
In 2004, the Raptor proved it was capable of air-to-ground operations with
subsonic JDAM releases. Other aircraft have released a JDAM at supersonic
"But the speeds at which we will eventually release the JDAM over the next
couple of weeks will far exceed any current aircraft's JDAM envelope," Major
Additionally, this was the first time a JDAM was released supersonically from an
internal weapons bay, officials said.
Even with thorough mission planning and briefing, including several
contingencies, by the test team and the test conductor, the testing was not
without its challenges.
Some of these challenges included limited range airspace to reach test
conditions, longer range travel of the weapon after release, more difficulty
with the photo chase aircraft keeping up with the Raptor and harsh conditions
for the aircraft and the weapon at release.
"All these factors obviously increased the stress level of the mission,” Major
Teichert said. “Attention to detail was heightened in order to ensure a
Major Teichert credited the mission success to thorough coordination among the
test team, the mission crew and the range controllers.
"Pilots and engineers had coordinated the details of the test during the test
planning phase," he said. "This close orchestration allowed the test to meet its
objectives as well as demonstrate operational relevance."
The Raptor is designed to operate high and fast where it has an enhanced
tactical advantage over air-to-air and surface-to-air threats, the major said.
"Adding the capability of supersonic JDAM provides a substantial increase in
bomb range to destroy lethal threats well outside of their engagement envelopes,"
he said. "The Raptor is essential to the Global Strike concept, and supersonic
JDAM optimizes that capability." (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News