Report: The U.S. Could Run Out of Smart Bombs
And you can’t fight a modern war without them.
Since the 1980s, smart bombs have become the wonder weapons of modern warfare. One laser- or GPS-guided bomb can hit a target where a dozen dumb bombs from a World War II bomber would have missed.
But precision-guided munitions, or PGMs, don’t do much good if you don’t have enough of them.
“Current operations have demonstrated a large demand for all types of PGMs,” warns a report by the Congressional Research Service, which is Congress’s research arm. “A potential high-intensity conflict would potentially require large stockpiles of all types of weapons. Several of these types of munitions—particularly JASSM, LRASM, and AARGM—are being procured in relatively small quantities, given their potential use rates in a high-intensity conflict scenario, along with the time it would take for replacement spent munitions once initial inventories are exhausted.”
The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) is a cruise missile carried by B-2, B-1 and B-52 bombers, as well as F-15E and F-16 fighters. Costing about $1 million apiece, JASSM is designed to enable strike aircraft to destroy targets while keeping safely out of range of enemy air defenses. The Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) is an anti-ship missile launched from aircraft and surface ships, that costs about $3 million each. The Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) is an upgraded AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation (HARM) missile, which homes in on enemy radar sites. All three would probably be used intensively during a conflict against an adversary possessing sophisticated air defenses and naval forces.
The CRS report coincides with a British study last month that warned that British ground forces would be overwhelmed by Russian artillery during a conflict in Eastern Europe. While Britain and NATO rely on air-launched PGMs, of which there is a limited number, Russia retains a huge arsenal of howitzers and battlefield rockets that make up in quantity what they may lack in precision.
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