Boeing has tapped Ferra Engineering to manufacture extended range wing kits for the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) carried by Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 A/B Hornet fighters.

The contract award was disclosed by Australia's minister for defence materiel Mike Kelly, who welcomed Boeing's selection of Brisbane-based Ferra.

"The wing kit will almost triple the weapon's current range, making the JDAM-ER a very cost-effective weapon," says Kelly. "The wing kit is based on the 'Kerkanya' glide technology initially developed by Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)."

"Kerkanya" was a DSTO programme in the 1980s to research glide bomb technologies.

In August 2012, Boeing announced that a winged version of the JDAM had completed windtunnel tests. The JDAM-ER features a "modular, add-on wing kit", developed in Australia, that can triple the 226kg (500lb) weapon's glide range to over 64km (35nm), Boeing said.

The first wing kits will be used for flight tests in late 2013, with initial production orders likely to be completed by 2015. Canberra foresees an opportunity to sell the wing kit internationally.

Source: Flight International