Well, sometimes it is cost / availability / driven.
Example- UK is using the dual use Paveways ( Enhanced in the latest Iraq effort, later Paveway IV when the factory over there is built ) simply because the U.K. dumb iron wouldn't fit the current JDAM kits. The UK had no other choice. That was the only GPS/INS capable PGM kit they were going to get for now. You'll take it and like it. Who knows what the future holds $$$ vs. politics vs... what ever. Someday you might see a JDAM kind of kit for U.K. dumb iron... or maybe one that resembles more of the thought process of the upcomming French AASM or the Israeli "SPICE". That is always hard to say.
In a perfect world a Paveway IV sounds great. Dual use. You can do an LGB or a GPS/INS attack profile if there is weather that prevents you from going LGB.
Couple other thoughts:
A JDAM has a bit more range, the kit is a bit cheaper, has to be inspected less when stored. And add a Diamondback wing kit and you can really get some great standoff PGM ability on the cheap.
Also as you may know, A "JDAM like" attack... One jet can hit multiple targets in one pass from a distance. GPS/INS weapons have really brought all concerned into the targets per sortie club bigtime. The short answer being JDAM puts the dropper at a bit less risk. Don't want to get into too much shooter tech, but they are improving the ability of GPS/INS weapons to be more rapidly targeted every day. It's future to stun the enemy in almost any weather is just getting better and better from..
-- experience of using it.
-- improvements in future technology like off board sensor platforms sending updates to the kit on the way down ( hit moving targets... ) i.e. a "sensorless smart bomb". ( USN going a bit different. They just put in an order to fund ( it has always been there in the R&D years back ), a strap on digital IR nose for what ever the USN thinks is important. Don't want to get into too much of the tech.
Makes a campaign like Allied Force '99 ( where only the B-2 did GPS/INS weapons, and lots of optical / LGB PGM carriers RTB'd with the weps still on the rack because of weather ) look like a stoneage air campaign.
IMHO the most exciting PGM coming up is the SDB ( Small Diameter Bomb ).
BTW- Everything I have explained here has been in some sort of company press release or news article over the years.
What do you mean by pointy head?
The versatile weapon is the EGBU-27 or the PW IV which is a combination of GPS and Laser guidence. JDAM requires precise coordinates and good GPS signals. LGB's require good enough wx to see the target and reflect enough laser energy back to the bomb. The combination GPS/Laser guidence allows accurate targeting if the weather is bad and precise targeting if I can see the target, that is versatility.
Pointy head is the slang term we use in the USAF for the spec flight. Avionics, DFLCC, etc. At one time I was assigned to a Spec Flight because we did so much T-shooting on the mux systems and often the lines get blurred on who's job it is. So the thought was make us a team. The Specs did not like it to much because of my monthly trips to the Load Barn and all the stuff involved with me being a Loader also. I learned alot and have forgotten most of it.
The Crew Dog is a reference to my 3 years as a DCC at Luke in the 308th. I was the DCC on 88-0157 and loved the job. If I had to do it all over again I would have been a Crew Chief from the start. Best job I have ever had in the USAF. At least while I was a DCC I did not have to load. I was a fully qualified DCC to include red X orders for both Weapons systems and APG. I have lots wrench time on Vipers and have a soft spot in my heart for them and always will.
F16 462 AD USAF. Crew dog for 3 and Even a pointy head for a few months.
There are a lot of things the SDB won't destroy. However there are a lot of things it will destroy:
- Com gear / antennas
- SAM setups
- Buildings where you only need to take out certain buildings. ( As opposed to crushing a lot of stuff around you like the 2000lb class weapon. ( even the 500lb class weapon is too much sometimes.
- More versatility to the G-FAC for calling down shots, because it is a "safer" weapon to use when our troops are also close.
- Of course a whole set of other targets. For a lot of targets you are just as dead by the SDB as you are if you were hit with a 2000lb weapon when you are talking about sub 3-4 meter hits.
-Also the SDB claims penetration on par with the big 2000lb class BLU-109.
Having a small weapon like this gives you lots more options. You can carry more and kill more targets per sortie that can die by such a weapon, and free up the larger weapons for what they do best. This weapon in the future could have a lot of potential for mods. It has already been tested with the Diamondback wing which means extreme range. Weapons like the upcoming JCM* ( joint common missile ... a replacement for maverick and hellfire which has much longer range yet is small and you can carry a lot of them... ) Has 3 types of sensor options. So at some point in time, putting a sensor in the nose of SDB instead of the penetrator and making this modular could be helpful.
In Iraq, USMC Cobras were the first to use a Thermobaric Hellfire on a building. It went through a window, released a bunch of metallic dust and ignited it: Instantly heating up the room but leaving the structure kind of intact. Having thought about it: A thermobaric option for the SDB could be very tasty indeed.
24,000 SDBs for the initial batch have already been ordered some time back. Don't know when they will be delivered.
The quad weapon rack gives a lot of options for a jet like the F-16. Carrying 8 SDBs is a lot more useful in a lot of situations, than just 1 JDAM and 2 GBU-12s. A good mix would be 4 SDB's on one side and 2 GBU-12s on the other. Assuming all the drop tank nonsense. Good reason for the USAF fleet to get busy with CFT mods, and mod out the wings to take more PGMs.... 1 quad rack for SDB and 2 GBU-12s on each side, for 8 SDBs and 4 GBU-12s, a SNIPER-XR on a CFT F-16 and I will take this for CAS over an A-10 because it is going to be far more useful in many more situations than the Mk eyeball only- eat-the-ground-fire-A-10. And of course lets not forget the loveable, huggable WCMD CBU-105** ( w/ SFW "skeets" ) to mix and match on your loadout. It kills massed vehicles by the bushel, yet has all the near all weather ability of JDAM. Lastly when it gets online the JCM. I would prefer 6 JCM instead of the 4 GBU-12's I mentioned above. 6x JCM and 8x SDB on a CFT F-16 would be very handy indeed.
PGM options for the F-16 show a bright future. The smaller new PGMs ( SDB, JCM ) will, with it's current ability, make it a handy, fast response, cheap to operate, CAS star.