Home » Air » Navy F/A-18s Firing Laser JDAMs at ISIL Targets

Navy F/A-18s Firing Laser JDAMs at ISIL Targets

by Kris Osborn on August 20, 2014

140807-N-CS564-078The commander on board the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier overseeing the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq said Navy F/A-18s have flown at least 30 bombing missions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, targets.

Thus far, Navy planes have destroyed ISIL mobile artillery positions, convoys and other strategic targets including vehicles and equipment captured by ISIL, said Navy Rear Adm. DeWolfe Miller, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Two told reporters by phone from the Arabian Gulf.

The Navy F/A-18s are configured with a host of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons such as the GBU-54 500-pound laser-guided bombs dropped in Iraq.  Laser-guided bombs can be guided by a laser-designation from the air or nearby ground forces. The GBU-54s dropped in Iraq are known as Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions or LJDAMS, which rely on GPS guidance to pinpoint their targets.

The GBU 54 is a 581-pound glide bomb with a range of up to 15 nautical miles, service officials said. The weapon uses semi-active laser guidance as well as GPS and inertial navigation systems.

Navy officials said standard laser guidance packages on bombs prove exceptionally accurate in clear conditions against stationary targets. However, with significant amounts of environmental factors such as airborne dust, smoke, fog, or cloud cover, the guidance packages can have difficulty maintaining “lock” on the laser designation while pursuing moving or maneuvering targets, officials explained.

This is why the GBU-54 was engineered. It is a dual-mode precision-guided bomb designed to destroyed fixed and re-locatable or moving targets, Navy officials said.

Miller said the intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance (ISR) missions flown over Iraq in recent months by F/A-18s helped familiarize pilots with ISIL targets and contributed to the success thus far of the attacks.

“Almost every flight that we do is involved with non-traditional ISR,” Miller said.

The Bush carrier strike group, which has flown more than 1,000 sorties over Iraq in recent months, shifted this past June from missions supporting Afghanistan operations to its present role in Iraq.  Prior to conducting missions in Iraq, the USS Bush flew 1,300 sorties over Afghanistan, Miller said.

“What we’ve shown throughout this deployment is flexibility, adaptability and the persistent nature of naval forces that are able to transition. Naval forces are where you need us when you need us with the capability that you need,” Miller said.

The attacks on ISIL by the U.S. Navy have involved F/A-18 fighter jets as well as E2 Hawkeye surveillance planes and EA-6B Prowlers for electronic warfare, Capt. Dan L. Cheever, Commander, Carrier Air Wing Eight, told reporters.

Two helicopter squadrons are assisting the effort as well, Cheever said.

Navy officials said the strike missions have been successful but would not comment on operational warfare questions such as whether ISIL has been firing anti-aircraft artillery back at U.S. planes during strike missions.

“We can handle whatever they have,” Miller said.

At the moment, the USS Bush carrier strike group includes the USS Philippine Sea, a cruiser and two destroyers, the USS Roosevelt and the USS O’Kane, Navy officials said.

The carrier strike group is joined by an Amphibious Ready Group also in the Arabian Gulf consisting of the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship and the USS Gunston Hall, a dock landing ship, Navy officials said.

The USS Bush has completed six months out of a planned nine-month deployment, however the carrier could wind up staying longer if bombing missions continue, Miller said.

“We are a sustainable force and we will stay out here as long as we’re needed,” he said.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

ghostwhowalksnz August 20, 2014 at 8:53 pm

I suppose the A10 is just too busy to be sent out there and without any airfields they just have to rely on carrier launched aircraft

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Robbie August 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

I'm surprised we haven't moved AF aircraft into next door Kuwait. Much quicker reaction time and longer loiter times…..

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Guest August 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

The public and some politicians don't want "boots on the ground" (regardless of how they interpret that). Moving in A-10s, or other AF aircraft to Iraq airfields would put a big logistics footprint there. In addition to all the personnel to directly support the aircraft (munitions, fuelers, avionics, AGE, etc), you need all the logistics to support the supporters (barracks, medical facilities, dining facilities, security).

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Sure August 21, 2014 at 3:26 pm

This. Why go through all that hassle when you can just use the carriers?

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Robbie August 22, 2014 at 7:18 am

We've had a near-constant USAF presence in Kuwait for over 20 years and, besides, the no-boots pledge only applies to Iraq. Sorties from next-door Kuwait would allow much quicker reaction times and longer loiter times, which equates the ability to hit more targets with the same amount of aircraft and with far fewer aerial refuelings.

GunBunny August 22, 2014 at 9:21 am

We have aircraft in Kuwait…..Army attack platforms.

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Lt_Dave_Mallevic August 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm

We don't want any downed pilots in ISIS hands. That's why no A-10. It's got no chance in a MANPAD/SHORAD environment.

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Tangodown August 20, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Yeah, he comes back to the 'Oval' every once in a while to REST UP…for the NEXT fundraiser.

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Doc August 21, 2014 at 12:32 am

Can we name something the Scimitar?
Maybe just a little one? Puh-leeze?

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Will August 21, 2014 at 3:50 pm

The English word "scimitar" may be from the Persian "shamshir" sword. That's not going to go over very well with an Iraqi government anxious to show the Sunni population that it won't be as close to Iran as the Maliki administration.

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jetta August 21, 2014 at 9:52 am

The marines in the amphibious ready group are sharpening their bayonets, no doubt.

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oblatt22 August 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Yep just as soon as the army secures Iraq and Syria they will be ready.

When Obama asked the marines for their plan for ISIS overrunning the capital they gave him a plan to evacuate. That why SOCOM is on the ground not the marines.

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js August 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Trust me there are Marines on the ground. Remember you have MARSOC and force recon they are everywhere. I’m sure there are alot of military special forces there they just don’t let everyone know.

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Tim August 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Trust me there are no Marines on the ground. 5th Group have been tasked with the Iraqi issue at the time, and have additional prep orders for deployment of more SOF operators if needed. You can bet that there are other non-conventional units there that most people do not know about, but Marines…..no.

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orcadrvr August 21, 2014 at 12:46 pm

The entire Middle East resembles "Geopolitical Rubic's Cube". Just a few months ago, we were going to bomb Assad who was fighting ISIS. Now we are bombing ISIS, who is fighting Assad. We were preparing to bomb Iran, but now we are on the same side as they are, vis a vis their fight against ISIS. And so on, and so on…..

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blight_asdf August 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

Oceania is at war with Eurasia and Eastasia today.

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Andy August 21, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Where are the B52's….Do the entire IS convoy at once….

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Michael August 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Your doing the right thing.

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Zolton August 21, 2014 at 9:32 pm

I wonder how well an F-35 would do compared to the F/A-18. What a great plane.

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Bobby August 22, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Im confused? are you saying the F-35 is a great plane? or the SuperBug? Id agree the SuperBug is probably the best Bang For your Buck we have flying right now. Id disagree entirely that the F35 is suited for this mission.

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Zolton August 23, 2014 at 10:28 am

F/A-18 is a great plane. Real doubts about the F-35. I regret the ambiguity and can see your point.

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@ITOdeed August 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Would love to see the IS bombing videos here.

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Irony of the innocent naïveté August 21, 2014 at 11:49 pm

For every problem there’s always a final solution ;)

Don’t bother replying and if you don’t get the actual meaning rather than the superficial obvious one than ignore it completely

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Joe August 22, 2014 at 9:28 am

waste of time, money, and airframe hours. not our people, not our fight, not our problem.

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tincan August 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

I support overkill. Get the 52′s up there. Napalm will suffice.

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mitchRAvet August 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

Where are the A-10s and C-130 Spectres?? Isis could be destroyed day and night between airforce and Naval aircraft By the way Yemeni Al queda has joined Isis.They want death, let them have it.{ and of course B52s would be wonderful}

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was a Boomer August 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm

AC-130′s are a wonderful tool.. I’d suggest sending 20 or 30 there to find tafgets and light them up. (how many do you think we have in inventory? Less than 50?)

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Andy August 23, 2014 at 10:18 am

Right, A few C-130's and A-10's is exactly what they need. That would put the fear of God…not Allah into these vermin.

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JOE August 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Regardless of the weak skinny obama and his accomplices (rest of his politicians) who should be accountable for their mistakes in his lack of strategic and geopolitical policies which cost a lot of TREASURE & BLOOD to USA, there must be a SOLID OPERATION (with a name, as always) and wipe out those maniacs MFs of ISIS or ISIL (or whatever they call themselves) who are emboldened because of this inefficient administration who LACKS of military knowledge and the Middle East is starting to be engulfed in flames because of them.
It's a total SHAME and offensive to provide information to the media of a COVERT OPERATION regardless of it's outcome good or bad you NEVER EVER say NOTHING to nobody and this coward politicians did it looking for a political gain of less than 5 minutes because of the beheading of the journalist and I quote "What about the others who are still hostages" they sign their Death sentence (Damn Coward Politicians).
The problem is not just ISIS or ISIL, it is also IRAN, (which is the worst enemy in the zone) and above all the MF who did murdered James Foley (had a british accent) just do the math how many of these psychopaths are all over the world in Europe and or (who knows) in USA in some sleeper cells waiting to strike with a big bang.
And what about our unique and only ally (for real) Israel who are in a very awful situation and the skinny guy is in Martha's Vineyard playing golf, oh I'm sorry he just came back.
He is doing NOTHING to help the Israelites, what is he waiting for?
A dirty nuclear bomb to go off because of a damn brainwashed terrorist will do it, the question is not will it happen, but when, and what about the south border? How many terrorist came thru?
This country is in a straight downfall because of obama and his accomplices, citizens and military DO SOMETHING to make understand the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER this country is living in.

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guest August 27, 2014 at 12:47 am

WOW, that is quite a…..synopsis of our current situation!! Too bad it is not really that drastic or one sided as far as the blame goes. Now, I am no fan of the Obama administration but they are not the only ones to blame and not the start of many issues. If I remember correctly, IRAN has been giving us problems during the 2 BUSH administrations, except that BUSH 1 did scare them a little, but his son did NOTHING to keep them in check. Neither did slick WIlly, and that goes for those Kooky Norks also :-).
BOTH political parties SUCK….they spend so much time and energy, trying to make the other one look bad, or fail, that almost nothing gets accomplished correctly. And while our military may be the BEST in the world, yes, that's right the BEST, the non SOCOM guys are a bloated bueracracy (?) at the top too. They are so scared of being creative or taking initiative so as to not harm their future advancement, that it is terrible at times. SOCOM saves the day at least, and then, every once in a while, we get a Schrarzkoph or this last guy who was supposed to be good, Tommy something or other. That is, until Rumsfeld and cronies, ruined the original calls for the proper troops and support. And when Sinsiki was booted for not going along with their plan, and later vindicated after wards, he was booted to where, the VA. One of the only places in the military GUARANTEED TO FAIL!! hahahahah and then, when that blew up, they wanted to blame the last 30 years worth of problems on him! HAH…so, as professional and as great and far sighted as that guy was, I guess it was just time for him to go onto better things…..I hope. Because he deserves it. Its the guys like him that speak truth to fact, that get tossed around, and stabed in the back by his compatriots, instead of supported. And the politicians, no matter what party they are from, do not want to listen, but soothe their own ego's and agenda's.

Does anyone really, truly, honestly believe, that Dick Cheney's former company, the one he worked for prior to becoming Vice President, was awarded over $30 billion of non competitive contracts. And then, when some were found to be cheating our government out of money, were fined some miniscule amount, compared to what they stole. And who paid for it……no one…..so, before you go blaming this guy or that, lets look at the big picture. I am so pessimistic about our future getting better, economically, politically, and internationally, it scares ME!! :-) And I am usually a optimist. It is just like the DEPRESSION of 2008 and the home mortgage fiasco. All the big bankers, in my belief, saw how the government bailed out the S & L bust, with no major players going to jail, and thought…hmmmmm. We can do this, and not get hurt! So, while all these loans were being made, for $3, 4, 5ooK houses to people making $40-60K, who could never honestly get approved and made all this HUGE profits for them selves and their companies, when the bottom fell out, what happened? NOTHING, hahahahaha and they took their money, and the BONUS'S that they continued to get paid, believe that or not, and a few little guys went to jail, for short terms. Hey, back then, let me keep $50,000,000 and give you 3 years in a country club jail, and I would have thrown in another year or two!! Oh well, that is my rant, so, I am a little tired of just blaming Obama for everything, at least the guy had the balls to go kill OBL, because Bush would NOT have done that. Hey, I voted for that scumbag the first time, and didn't vote the second time. The GOP has run out of good leaders. None want the job :-)!!

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citanon August 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Thank god they are using the cheap stuff. Every time I see a punch of terrorists get vaporized by something like an LGB, I cringe a little knowing that we just spent half a million dollars taking out that piece of garbage.

With JDAMs running $50K a piece, the price is little more acceptable.

There's still the cost of fuel, etc. Ugh. What a waste.

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Phil September 3, 2014 at 9:52 am

JDAMs are actually price competitive with non-guided bombs, because you don't need as much storage for all the more ordnance you would need and extra sorties (plus danger to aircraft) to deliver them if you were't hitting your targets.

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Denis August 23, 2014 at 10:48 am

If we know where these targets are, why are we dropping individual airstrikes instead of one massive drop on these scumbags. I’m so tired of hearing of U.S. and other innocent civilians being killed by these terrorists. When Japan struck Pearl Harbor we dropped the atomic bomb, and they surrendered, now we just shoot bb’s and hope they will stop. After 13 years of fighting with these losers who keep rising, and trading known terrorists for one soldier who deserted his post, which I might add infuriates me because it wouldn’t happen for people like me or reporter James Foley. If they are hiding in the mountains or wherever, and we have location on them, then why the hell are we shooting bb’s, its time to level them and show them, we the U.S. at not putting up with their BS anymore and this is what they the terrorists have brought onto themselves. Level the mountain or villages in one swift blow, and don’t stop until they are either all obliterated or ask for forgiveness. Its the least we could do for the innocent citizens who are being murdered for their terroristic propaganda. End this jihadist BS once and for all. Show them we stand proud and aren’t going to take this crap anymore. I hate to see innocent people over there killed, but apparently they aren’t standing up against these brain dead scum, or they are supporters and pretending not to be. Either that or enforce all civilians out of the region and enforce no travel in or out of that region into our country. Let them kill off th mselves, and start worrying about our own problems here. Sick of people dying over there for billions if not trillions AF taxpayers money and for what, what have the Islamic country’s given us in return for support, oil? We can get it elsewhere. Amen and god bless our soldiers.

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Guest August 27, 2014 at 12:59 am

Actually, most people do not realize, but, we get very little oil any more from over seas, the mid east. I think it is down to like 12-15%, that's it. Mostly from Canada, South America and Mexico. We get the rest from home now. BUT HEY, I agree with you.

Why not, just develop a cheap, 10-15,000lb conventional or thermobaric bomb, stick a $12K JDAM kit on the back, and drop it on those knuckleheads up in the mountains. It would vaporize them all, so, no complaints of civilian casualties, because there would be nothing left of them!!! :-) All for about a $35K bomb, instead of all these smaller, more expensive bombs! Whatta ya think>?

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Stanley August 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I love the way so many commentors are confidently asserting we should bomb these ISIL terrorists. A month or two ago, they’d never heard of ISIL. Now they’ve heard some vague soundbites on the evening news, and suddenly they’re experts on the situation. They’re totally confident about how many people we should kill, and with what weapons, and what strategies we could use that might best support indiscriminate carpet bombing. Dear Lord.

You armchair war-mongers: remember how you rushed to support the invasion of Afghanistan? You felt pretty confident you knew it all, thanks to those handy news soundbites, right? How'd that work out for your sons and daughters in the military, by the way? The ones who turned up to Afghanistan and found that the Afghan people had nothing to do with 911, and had no quarrel with the USA until you invaded? How are those young people who’ve returned Stateside with missing limbs and PTSD and alcoholism and wrecked lives? Their lives have been ruined, and for nothing. You achieved nothing in Afghanistan. Not one thing.

Remember how you rushed to support the invasion of Iraq? You felt pretty confident you knew it all, thanks to those handy news soundbites, huh? So you eargerly sent your sons and daughters, and other people’s sons and daughters, off to a foreign land to occupy it and kill any disagreeable natives. How did that work out? Now that the debt for the war has passed three trillion, your economy is ruined, and tens of thousands of your young soldiers are disfigured, shellshocked, and suicidal? You tore up their lives, and turned Iraq into a quagmire. You took a functioning Iraq, where Moslem religious extremism was unheard of and Christians lived in peace – and you turned it into a charnel house, Christian Iraqis are slaughtered and more than a million died.

Oh, and then there's Assad. A tyrant! A monster! The news soundbites told you so! Bomb him now! Supply arms to the Islamists fighting him! …Hang on, it turns out Assad is protecting religious minorities like Christians …Hang on, now it seems Assad is moderate, and we need him to help stop ISIL, that we created…

Anything else you military geniuses want to give your advice on, based on some lies and junk spewed out by the TV? Any other places we need to bomb, that you’ve never heard of? Any other groups we need to bomb now, having armed them just a few months beforehand?

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sandlugs September 5, 2014 at 12:41 am

So you think beheading two journalists is a "vague soundbite". Where are you from asshole. Not the US, it is obvious as you keep pointing fingers at the US and if not for the US the rest of the world would be either dead or "Moslem".

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Elijah August 26, 2014 at 8:35 am

Hey guys. Come to Ukraine. Our East needs your fire too.
Kill some comies (russians).

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Lt_Dave_Mallevic August 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I'd love to join you. Maybe I will if the conflict is still going when my obligations expire. I have relatives who suffered greatly under the Soviet/Russian machine.

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John Deere August 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm

If Clinton had pulled the troops out at the demand of some religious nut job, Republicans would have branded him Carter mk2. Clinton was very robust militarily, he was no shrinking violet.

Bush isn't responsible for 9/11, but Bush is responsible for the current mess. Bush went after Sadam to stamp Pax Americana on the Middle East – he really thought American style "freedom" would trump the Iraqi people's religious, ethnic and tribal concerns. The US occupation of Iraq radicalized a generation across the Middle East, the power vacuum left by the inept Iraqi Government enabled the new militants to seize control.

Dropping bombs on people doesn't cure terrorism. It radicalizes the survivors, their families and their communities. Bombing simply makes things worse.

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Ross August 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

carriers prove again however that they are superior thanks to the ability to loiter offshore in international waters, avoiding the political question entirely as well as already being in the general vicinity, thus able to carry out strikes almost immediately instead of waiting on the logistics-side of things to get the ball rolling for land-based aircraft being deployed to the area.

and during the iraq campaign the vast majority of air power was carrier-based, as well as afghanistan (despite it being a landlocked country)

glad they can prove themselves after all this recent talk of carriers being obsolete.

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