The indigenous LCA Tejas fighter jets are to be equipped with Joint Direct Attack Munition Extended Range (JDAM-ER) precision-guided bombing kits which will enable the Indian Air Force (IAF) to target enemy positions with high accuracy. Under delegated financial powers by the IAF, acquiring JDAM kits will help the Tejas jets to take out enemy bunkers and runways at distances of 80km and beyond. India ordered JDAM to enhance the capabilities of the LCA Tejas fighters. This will allow them to carry out airstrikes similar to Balakot, with more precision and accuracy.
The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with the Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) designed the HAL Tejas for the IAF and the Indian Navy. It is an Indian, single-engine, multirole, delta wing light fighter. It stemmed from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme of the 1980s, to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters, however, it later became part of a general fleet modernization programme. The LCA was officially named ‘Tejas’ in 2003, and is the lightest and smallest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft. Two LCA Tejas fighter squadrons have already been activated by India, and it is looking to get an additional four in a few years. They are to replace the MiG-21 inventory.
The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) refers to a guidance kit which converts “dumb bombs” or unguided bombs into all-weather precision-guided munitions. The guidance system of JDAM was jointly developed by the United States Navy and the United States Air Force, hence the term ‘Joint’ in JDAM. JDAM-equipped bombs are steered by an integrated inertial guidance system along with a GPS receiver. This provides them with a published range of up to 28 km. These bombs range from 230 kg to 910 kg. The JDAM kit is given a Guided Bomb Unit (GBU) identifier when installed on a bomb, which supersedes the Mark 80 or BLU (Bomb, Live Unit) nomenclature of the bomb to which it is attached.
Boeing revealed that it will jointly develop the JDAM-ER 910 kg version with South Korea in 2009. The range of JDAM will triple to 80km by the wing kit for the same accuracy and will be priced at $10,000 per unit. The JDAM-ER is meant to improve laser-guided bomb and imaging infrared technology, which can be hindered by bad weather and ground conditions. Laser seekers are now being fitted with JDAMs. The Powered JDAM combines a 500lb bomb with a propulsion module and a wing kit. This enables it to gain the range of more sophisticated missiles via a low-cost engine. It is hence cheaper as it neither possesses a stealthy shape nor the capability to conduct low-altitude flights.