Boeing wins $7.5 billion contract from US Air Force for guided bombs

Boeing wins .5 billion contract from US Air Force for guided bombs

The Air Force awarded Boeing a contract worth nearly $7.5 billion to build more kits to convert bombs into guided weapons known as Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

The company will provide JDAM tail kits and other supplies under the sole-source fixed-price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, the Pentagon said Friday. The company will work on the kits, as well as spares, repairs, technical assistance and laser JDAM sensor kits, at its St Louis, Missouri, facility through the end of February 2030.

The Air Force said that the number of JDAM kits Boeing will provide under this contract is not yet determined. Boeing referred questions to the Air Force.

Some of the JDAMs will also go to the Navy, which is helping fund the contract, the Air Force said. Foreign customers will also receive some of these JDAM supplies, with nearly $228.2 million of the contract coming from foreign military sales funds.

To create JDAMs, the Air Force or Navy attaches guidance tail kits to unguided “dumb” bombs that range from 500 pounds to 2,000 pounds. That tail kit includes a navigational system and a GPS guidance control unit that allows the bomb to be steered from an aircraft toward its ground target, even in rough weather. The per-unit cost of a JDAM kit ranges from about $25,000 to $84,000 apiece, depending on how many units the Air Force buys in a year.

The contract for more JDAM kits comes at a time when the U.S. military is worried about its ability to stock enough munitions for its own arsenal, as well as to support allies such as Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel. Defense firms also don’t have enough workers or materials to surge the supply of some munitions, constricting the defense industrial base’s production capacity.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown told reporters in March that before the U.S. approves requests for weapons from even close allies, it takes a hard look at its own munitions stockpiles and considers how providing weapons will affect readiness.

The Air Force struggled to field enough munitions such as JDAMs during the war against the Islamic State. The service dramatically spiked its purchase of JDAMs to 30,872 in 2019, 24,794 in 2020 and 17,300 in 2021, before bringing its purchases down to the thousands in the years that followed.

Boeing previously received a $344.6 million contract modification from the Navy in September 2021 to provide up to 24,000 precision laser guidance sets for the military’s laser JDAM program. The Air Force awarded Boeing another contract, worth $40.5 million, in January 2023 to provide JDAM wing kits.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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