Boeing and Kratos TDI set to enhance long-range strike capabilities with powered JDAM missile

The recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kratos Defense & Security Solutions' Technical Directions Inc. (TDI) unit and Boeing marks a significant advancement in the development of long-range munitions for land and maritime surface attacks. This collaboration will focus on the incorporation of TDI's J85 turbine engine into Boeing's Motorized Joint Direct Attack Munition (P-JDAM), a system designed to provide greater range and efficiency in munitions delivery.
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The inclusion of a propulsion system adds a new layer of versatility and range to the JDAM family  (Picture source: Boeing)

Boeing's P-JDAM integrates a 500-pound warhead with the conventional JDAM guidance kit, a wing kit, and Kratos' TDI-J85 engine. The inclusion of a propulsion system adds a new layer of versatility and range to the JDAM family. The TDI-J85 engine can produce 200 pounds-force (lbf) of net thrust under static conditions at sea level and can generate up to 1.5 kW of AC power. This means that the P-JDAM will have onboard power capabilities to complement its propulsion.

A significant factor behind this MoU is the potential for savings. TDI's "low-cost turbine engine technology" could lead to economies of scale, making the P-JDAM an affordable yet powerful munition. According to Joseph Kovasity, senior vice president of TDI, "We have invested significantly in manufacturability at production scale, resulting in an incredibly high ratio of engine performance to cost."

P-JDAM is designed to be compatible with commercial and military-grade turbine fuels. Additionally, the weapon system is intended to be exportable to any of the JDAM's 35 partner nations, making it a versatile and accessible option for allied militaries.

The JDAM system has been around since 1998, continually evolving to meet the needs of modern warfare. Originally designed as a guidance kit to turn unguided free-fall bombs into all-weather precision munitions, JDAMs have come a long way. More than 450 JDAMs were deployed during operational testing between 1998 and 1999, demonstrating a system reliability rate of 95% and an accuracy rate of 3 meters. Nearly 430,000 kits were manufactured between 1998 and 2020.

The MoU between Kratos TDI and Boeing signals an important step in the evolution of JDAM munitions, providing extended range and cost savings. As Joseph Kovasity noted, the collaboration promises "incredible potential for this long-range precision strike capability." The P-JDAM is not simply an incremental update, but perhaps a significant leap forward in precision munitions capabilities, with implications for the U.S. military and its allied nations.

By combining advances in engine technology with the proven effectiveness of JDAM systems, this partnership aims to produce a next-generation munition that can meet the evolving needs of defense and security on a global scale.