TechUS counters Russian jamming in Ukraine with $23.5M advanced bomb tech

US counters Russian jamming in Ukraine with $23.5M advanced bomb tech

GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) along with additional HOJ heads that home in on the source of interference.
GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) along with additional HOJ heads that home in on the source of interference.
Images source: © USAF

5:02 AM EDT, May 4, 2024, updated: 4:54 AM EDT, May 5, 2024

In response to the challenges posed by GPS signal jamming of precision weapons in Ukraine, the United States has prioritized the swift integration of Home-on-Jam (HOJ) guidance technology into the JDAM-ER family of bombs. This article delves into the nuances of this decision and its significance concerning the broader context of precision weapon issues faced by American forces in Ukraine.

The American Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has entrusted Cypress and Scientific Applications and Research Associates Inc. (SARA) with a contract worth $23.5 million to incorporate HOJ guidance systems into JDAM/ER-guided bombs. This initiative is set to significantly bolster the Ukrainian military's capability to counteract Russian electronic warfare systems. A bomb outfitted with a HOJ module home in on the source of electronic interference, mirroring the approach of AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles in targeting and neutralizing anti-aircraft defense radars.

HOJ guidance heads - A straightforward solution to a critical challenge

The effectiveness of precision weaponry, dependent on satellite navigation, has been notably compromised by Russian jamming strategies recently. This issue is particularly pronounced for weapons with lower impact power, such as the M982 Excalibur projectiles or GLSDB, where even slight deviations can render them ineffectual.

Russian electronic warfare systems, like the R-330Zh Zhitel, create zones within which the accuracy of GPS-based weapons plummets. In these scenarios, the Ukrainian forces resort to using weapons that can function within jamming environments, such as AASM Hammer bombs, or focus on eliminating the sources of jamming.

Alternatively, Ukrainians employ drones resistant to jamming, such as the Polish FlyEye, which can coordinate with artillery or special operations units behind enemy lines.

Meanwhile, the Americans have proposed a novel approach, equipping standard bombs and missile projectiles with additional guidance heads. These modified weapons can autonomously target the jammers upon being launched into areas with known jamming activities. Since jammers must remain active to be effective, they become prime targets for these adapted munitions. Continuous operation and protection, for example, by Pantsir-S1 systems, are essential for the survival of these jammers.

According to The Warzone, the Americans experimented with this technology on the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) in 2020, adding an extra guidance module to the bombs. Since GLSDB missiles are essentially SDB bombs equipped with a rocket engine, developing an anti-jamming variant seems feasible in the short term. Extending these capabilities to JDAM/ER bombs is also a practical and strategically beneficial move.

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