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Artillery Launched Precision Guided Munitions

Types of precision-guided ammunition
A laser-guided GBU-24 (BLU-109 warhead variant) strikes its target
A laser-guided GBU-24 (BLU-109 warhead variant) strikes its target

[edit] Radio-controlled weapons

The United States Army began experimenting with radio-controlled remotely guided planes in World War II, but the program had few successes (see Operation Aphrodite). The first successful experiments with guided bombs were conducted during World War II when television-guided bombs, flare-sighted bombs and other steerable munitions, such as the 1000-lb-class (450 kg) AZON bomb, were developed. The Germans developed several types of steerable munitions, such as the 1,400-kg (3,100 lb) Fritz X, the closest Axis equivalent of the AZON device. There was even an attempt to produce a glider bomb that was released from a larger plane over its target, but the program stopped with the nuclear attacks in Japan.

The programs started again in the Korean War, where nuclear war would have been unthinkable. In the 1960s, the electro-optical bomb (or camera bomb) was introduced. They were equipped with television cameras and steerable flare sights, in which the bomb would be steered until the flare superimposed the target. The camera bombs transmitted a "bomb's eye view" of the target back to a controlling aircraft. An operator in this aircraft then transmitted control signals to steerable fins fitted to the bomb. Such weapons were used increasingly by the USAF in the last few years of the Vietnam War because the political climate was increasingly intolerant of civilian casualties.

Although not as popular as the newer JDAM and JSOW weapons, or even the older Laser-guided bomb systems, weapons like the AGM-62 Walleye TV-guided bomb are still being used, in conjunction with the AAW-144 Data Link Pod, on US Navy F/A-18 Hornets.

[edit] Laser-guided weapons

In 1962, the US Army began research into laser guidance systems and by 1967 the USAF had conducted a competitive evaluation leading to full development of the world's first laser-guided bomb, the BOLT-117, in 1968. All such bombs work in much the same way, relying on the target being illuminated, or "painted," by a laser target designator on the ground or on an aircraft. They have the significant disadvantage of not being usable in poor weather where the target illumination cannot be seen, or where it is not possible to get a target designator near the target. The laser designator sends its beam in a series of encrypted pulses so that the bomb cannot be confused by an ordinary laser, and also so multiple designators can operate in reasonable proximity.

Laser-guided weapons did not become commonplace until the advent of the microchip. They made their practical debut in Vietnam, where on 13 May 1973 when they were used in the second successful attack on the Thanh Hoa Bridge. This structure had previously been the target of 800 American sorties [1] (using unguided weapons) and was partially destroyed in each of two successful attacks, the other being on 27 Apr 1972 using Walleyes. That first mission also had laser-guided weapons but bad weather prevented their use. They were used, though not on a large scale, by the British forces during the 1982 Falklands War. [2] The first large-scale use of smart weapons came in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm when they were used by coalition forces against Iraq. Even so, most of the air-dropped ordnance used in that war was "dumb," although the percentages are biased by the large use of various (unguided) cluster bombs. Laser-guided weapons were used in large numbers during the 1999 Kosovo War, but their effectiveness was often reduced by the poor weather conditions prevalent in the southern Balkans.

There are two basic families of laser-guided bombs in American (and American-sphere) service: The Paveway™ II and the Paveway™ III. The Paveway III guidance system is more aerodynamically efficient and so has a longer range, however it is more expensive. Paveway II 500-pound LGBs (i.e. GBU-12) are a cheaper lightweight PGM suitable for use against vehicles and other small targets, while a Paveway III 2000-pound penetrator (i.e. GBU-24) is a more expensive weapon suitable for use against high-value targets. GBU-12s were used to great effect in the first Gulf War, dropped from F-111F aircraft to destroy Iraqi armored vehicles in a process referred to as "tank plinking."

[edit] Radar/Infrared/IR Imaging/Electro-Optical Guided Weapons

Precision guidance has been applied to weapons other than conventional bomb warheads. The Raytheon Maverick heavy anti-tank missile has among its various marks guidance systems such as electro-optical (AGM-65A), imaging infra-red (AGM-65D), and laser homing (AGM-65E).[3] The first two, by guiding themselves based on the visual or IR scene of the target, are fire-and-forget in that the pilot can release the weapon and it will guide itself to the target without further input, which allows the delivery aircraft to escape return fire.

[edit] Millimeter-wave radar

The Lockheed-Martin Hellfire II light-weight anti-tank weapon in one mark uses the radar on the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow to provide fire-and-forget guidance for that weapon.

[edit] Satellite-guided weapons
HOPE/HOSBO of the Luftwaffe with a combination of GPS/INS and electro-optical guidance
HOPE/HOSBO of the Luftwaffe with a combination of GPS/INS and electro-optical guidance

Lessons learned during the first Gulf War showed the value of precision munitions, yet they also highlighted the difficulties in employing them — specifically when visibility of the ground or target from the air was degraded.[4] The problem of poor visibility does not affect satellite-guided weapons such as Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW), which make use the United States' GPS system for guidance. This weapon can be employed in all weather conditions, without any need for ground support. Because it is possible to jam GPS, the guidance package reverts to inertial navigation in the event of GPS signal loss. Inertial navigation is significantly less accurate; the JDAM achieves a published Circular Error Probable (CEP) of 13 m under GPS guidance, but typically only 30m under inertial guidance (with free fall times of 100 seconds or less).[5][6]

The precision of these weapons is dependent both on the precision of the measurement system used for location determination and the precision in setting the coordinates of the target. The latter critically depends on intelligence information, not all of which is accurate. According to a CIA report, the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during Operation Allied Force by NATO aircraft was attributed to faulty target information.[7] However, if the targeting information is accurate, satellite-guided weapons are significantly more likely to achieve a successful strike in any given weather conditions than any other type of precision-guided munition.

[edit] Advanced guidance concepts

Responding to after-action reports from pilots who employed laser and/or satellite guided weapons, Boeing has developed a Laser JDAM (LJDAM) to provide both types of guidance in a single kit. Based on the existing JDAM configurations, a laser guidance package is added to a GPS/INS guided weapon to increase the overall accuracy of the weapons.[8] Raytheon has developed the Enhanced Paveway family, which adds GPS/INS guidance to their Paveway family of laser-guidance packages.[9] These "hybrid" laser and GPS guided weapons permit the carriage of fewer weapons types, while retaining mission flexibility, because these weapons can be employed equally against moving and fixed targets, or targets of opportunity. For instance, a typical weapons load on an F-16 flying in the Iraq War included a single 2,000-lb JDAM and two 1000-lb LGBs. With LJDAM, and the new Small Diameter Bomb, these same aircraft can carry more bombs if necessary, and have the option of satellite or laser guidance for each weapon release.

[edit] Fictional uses of the term "smart bomb"

In video games (particularly arcade-style shooters such as Defender), the concept of smart bombs has often, somewhat ironically, been assigned to a type of weapon that obliterates any and all targets in sight but does no damage (or minimal damage) to the player's own ship. One reference where the smart bomb at least retains its homing function (but still razes anything within its large blast radius) is in Star Fox 64, where the Nova bomb moniker was switched with the more generic Smart Bomb name. Another example is in the Descent series of video games, where heavy "Smart Missiles" detonate a set time after launch to release five plasma bomblets that home in on enemy vessels.
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Added: Nov-28-2007 
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  • Sweet!

    Posted Nov-28-2007 By 

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  • I worked on the first stage of this back in the 80's. It was called the "Copper-head" a sat. feild arty . that could hit a dime from space. An awsome projectile when fired from an 155 would devastate all that it was guided to....

    Posted Nov-28-2007 By 

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  • thats all dandy until an operator clicks a link for free porn in his email and drops the whole network with a virus...

    Posted Nov-28-2007 By 

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  • Oh, the wonderful future of fascism.

    Posted Nov-28-2007 By 

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  • this is a squishy libs wet dream.. why not just KILL the enemy? Then they can't go back and regroup to come and try to kill you again

    Posted Jun-7-2010 By 

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  • I rememebr when John Kerry held a "Conference" in Chicago no less, and brought in a bunch of supposed Vets who supposedly were in Vietnam, and supposedly witenessed and participated in atrocities. No vetting of them was ever done at the time, and many didn't even give their real names. None were specific in units, or dates, or locations, but the Leftist press ate it up. Kerry even gathered it all together in a book he published, now long out of print and Kerry uses his Wife's inhereted More..

    Posted May-21-2012 By 

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