F-15E completes first successful maritime JDAM test

Three US Air Force (USAF) F-15E Strike Eagles from the 53rd Wing’s 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) ‘Skulls’ at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, supported a test as part of the Quicksink Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) on August 26.

Partnering with the US Air Force Research Laboratory, the F-15E crews developed and demonstrated new tactics, techniques and procedures for employing modified 2,000lb GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) on both moving and static maritime targets. The goal of this test was to validate a new way to employ air-delivered munitions against ships that will change the maritime target lethality paradigm.

F-15E maritime JDAM test
US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle 98-0132’ET’ taxies out at Eglin AFB, Florida, carrying four modified 2,000lb GBU-31 JDAMs to participate in the Quicksink Joint Capability Technology Demonstration. USAF/1st Lt Lindsey Heflin

Maj Andrew Swanson, 85th TES F-15E weapons system officer, said: “For any large moving ship, the Air Force’s primary weapon is the 2,000lb laser guided GBU-24. Not only is this weapon less than ideal, but it also reduces our survivability based on how it must be employed. This munition can change all of that.”

A US Navy submarine has the ability to launch and destroy a ship with a single torpedo at any time, but by launching that weapon it gives away the location of the vessel. The Quicksink JCTD aims to develop a low-cost method of achieving torpedo-like seaworthy kills from the air. This test builds on a previous 53rd Wing test conducted last year where a B-52H Stratofortress from the 49th TES dropped JDAMs in order to assess the viability of specific maritime impact conditions.