Gathering opposition in the US Congress has been slowing weapons requests from Saudi Arabia and resulted in postponement of the planned request for JDAM GPS-guided bombs. On Jan 14/08, the US DSCA announced the Government of Saudi Arabia’s official request for 900 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits: 550 GBU-38s for the 500 pound MK-82 bombs, another 250 GBU-31s for the 2,000 pound MK-84s, and 100 GBU-31s for BLU-109 2,000 pound “bunker buster” bombs). Also included are bomb components, mission planning, aircraft integration, publications and technical manuals, spare and repair parts, support equipment, contractor engineering and technical support, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $123 million, and Boeing would be the prime contractor.
The JDAMs are specifically noted as being “for use on RSAF F-15S aircraft”; though its Tornado GR4 fleet would also present a logical set of candidates, JDAM requires a MIL-STD-1760 data bus. Implementation of this sale would require the assignment of approximately 4 contractor representatives to Saudi Arabia to provide technical assistance to integrate the weapons into the operational units, plus annual 1 week Program Management Reviews in Saudi Arabia with U.S military and contractor personnel.
If the sale goes through. Congressional opposition hasn’t gone away, and the Saudi sale will face a serious fight.