The Royal Australian Air Force has demonstrated a wing kit for the Boeing joint direct attack munition (JDAM) that tripled the effective range of the weapon when launched from an F/A-18 Hornet.

The wing kit, which with the weapon’s laser guidance kit is called the JDAM extended range (ER), was shown to increase the munition’s range from 24km (15 miles) to 72km. JDAM is a laser guidance retrofit kit that enhances a GBU-39 small diameter gravity bomb (SDB) into a precision-guided munition. The retrofit includes a laser sensor, GPS counter-jamming technology and an all-weather radar sensor.

The flight tests were conducted above the Woomera Test Range in Australian using the nation’s F/A-18s. Several 227kg (500lb) JDAMs were dropped from altitudes ranging from 12,190m (40,000ft) down to 3,048m. During each test, the JDAM ER’s wing kit deployed successfully, flew to a predetermined target and impacted within meters, Boeing says in a 24 February announcement.

“The JDAM ER wing kit takes advantage of the conventional JDAM aircraft interface and Small Diameter Bomb glide technology,” said Beth Kluba, vice president, Boeing Weapons and Missile Systems. “This keeps integration, development and sustainment costs low while bringing customers the range increase needed to neutralise current and future threats.”

Rear Adm Tony Dalton, chief of guided weapons acquisition for Australia, says the JDAM’s extended range configuration will allow for flexibility in targeting, given its greater standoff range and improved accuracy.

“Additionally, the program also stands to significantly benefit local Australian industry,” he says. Brisbane, Australia-based Ferra Engineering, for instance, will supply Boeing with sub-assemblies for the modular wing kit

Boeing will produce and integrate JDAM ER wing kits for the RAAF under a contract awarded in 2011. Production and initial deliveries of JDAM ER are planned for 2015 pending further certification testing.