A-10C Drops Its First JDAM
The A-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the Warthog and known for its
close-air support superiority and the ability to carry large and
varied ordnance, is now on its way to delivering a new capability
to the warfighter.
A pilot from the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force
Base, FL with support from people with the 46th Test Wing, Boeing
and a host of other units, flew a quick yet historic mission early
in November. For the first time, a guided bomb unit-54, the Laser
Joint Direct Attack Munition, or LJDAM, was dropped from an
"There is a strong need to destroy moving targets in the AOR,"
said Capt. Kirt Cassell, the lead A-10C flight test engineer. "The
Laser JDAM has shown to be very effective at destroying moving
targets on other (aircraft) and Air Combat Command (officials)
wanted to bring that capability to the A-10C for an upcoming
Captain Cassell and team members from the 40th FTS began
planning this test mission in early October. That's a short
timeline for a test mission, according to Captain Cassell. Plus,
the team was challenged with ensuring the LJDAM worked correctly.
To do this, the plan was to drop the bomb on a GPS target and then
lase the weapon to another target downrange.
"The test was very successful!" Captain Cassell said. "The
weapon functioned properly and released successfully, impacting the
target almost exactly where the laser spot was located. We were
able to demonstrate that the GBU-54 can successfully be integrated
and dropped from the A-10C."
Maj. Matthew Domsalla piloted the historic mission. He's been
flying the A-10 for more than eight years and knows that this added
capability will make the A-10C even more lethal and more valuable
to warfighters needing some firepower assistance.
"The LJDAM provides the pilot the ability to update the
targeting if the target moves while the weapon is in flight," he
The A-10C has already demonstrated tremendous capability in
supporting the war on terrorism. According to Lt. Col. Evan
Dertien, the 40th Flight Test Squadron commander, putting this bomb
on the aircraft "will give the A-10 an outstanding precision
targeting capability that will help the Air Force continue to
provide precision engagement."
And while making Air Force history is a great feeling for the
40th team, Colonel Dertien says the rewards of a successful test
are more far reaching.
"When the weapons are proven in combat and you get feedback from
the deployed flying units that a capability worked as expected and
made a difference in the fight, that's the big payoff," he
The next step for the A-10C and LJDAM is to undergo operational
tests to develop tactics and techniques for employing the weapon.
If those tests prove to go as well as the first, Eglin's test team
may have their feedback as early as January. The goal is to have
this new precision capability deployed to the area of operations by