US Congress has been formally notified of the proposed sale of Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia. Lawmakers have 30 days to object to the sale, which is valued at $123 million.

The proposed sale covers 900 JDAM tail kits to covert unguided bombs into all-weather smart munitions - 550 GBU-38 guidance kits for Mk82 500lb bombs and 250 GBU-31s for Mk84 2,000lb bombs, plus 100 GBU-31s for BLU-109 2,000lb hardened penetrator bombs.

JDAM combines satellite guidance using GPS signals with inertial navigation to make the bomb accurate to within 10m.

F-15E with JDAMs
F-15E carries five 2,000lb JDAMs in flight tests                      © Boeing

Notifying Congress, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency says the proposed sale will enable Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing F-15S Strike Eagles "to participate to a greater degree in coalition operations". JDAM is now the weapon of choice for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

JDAM has already been exported to Australia, Chile, Denmark, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and South Korea, with additional sales planned to Egypt, Finland, Greece and Pakistan.

Israel initially opposed the sale of JDAMs to Saudi Arabia, arguing it would erode the Jewish nation's military superiority. But Reuters has reported that the US government has agreed in principle to supply Israel with more advanced JDAMs that would not be available to Saudi Arabia.

Boeing is producing a version of the JDAM with a laser seeker, for use against moving targets, and developing an anti-jamming system that will enable the weapon to maintain its accuracy when GPS signals are being jammed.