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World - Middle East

U.S. plans to sell satellite-guided bomb technology to Israel

November 18, 1999
Web posted at: 12:01 a.m. EST (0501 GMT)

From Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States plans to sell Israel the technology to convert 700 of its bombs into top-of-the- line, satellite-guided munitions, which now are only in the U.S. military inventory.

Mideast peace


The satellite-guided bombs, known as JDAMs, or Joint Direct Attack Munitions, were considered the most accurate and reliable bombs used in this year's NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. Unlike laser-guided bombs, they are unaffected by cloud cover.

The proposed $45 million sale of "tail kits," which convert unguided bombs so they can use signals from a constellation of 24 global-positioning satellites for pinpoint accuracy, is to include spare parts, support equipment and technical support.

Two JDAMs delivered by U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 7. U.S. officials maintained the target was misidentified by U.S. intelligence, but the bombs accurately hit the coordinates provided to the B-2 pilots.

A Pentagon statement said the planned sale to Israel will not affect the military balance in the region, and will contribute to the national security of the United States by improving the security of a friendly country that is a force for political stability in the Middle East.

While Israel is the first country to purchase the JDAMs from the United States, the Pentagon also plans to sell them to NATO allies to help them upgrade their bombing capabilities.

NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia showed other alliance members lagged far behind the United States in their capability to use precision-guided bombs to strike fixed targets.

JDAMs are inexpensive, compared to laser-guided bombs. For about $14,000 each, the conversion process turns a "dumb" bomb into a high-tech "smart" bomb.

That compares to a cost of up to $300,000 for a laser-guided bomb, which was a state-of-the-art weapon in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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