Video: US Air Force Destroys Warship Using Massive New ‘Quicksink’ Smart Bomb

© Screenshot/Air Force Research LaboratoryThe Air Force Research Laboratory and Eglin Air Force Base’s Integrated Test Team demonstrated a new low-cost, air-delivered capability for defeating maritime threats April 28, 2022, that successfully destroyed a full-scale surface vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Air Force Research Laboratory and Eglin Air Force Base’s Integrated Test Team demonstrated a new low-cost, air-delivered capability for defeating maritime threats April 28, 2022, that successfully destroyed a full-scale surface vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.05.2022
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The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has released footage of its second test of QUICKSINK, a technology that offers a low-cost anti-ship option for aircraft.
“QUICKSINK is an answer to an urgent need to neutralize maritime threats to freedom around the world. The men and women of this directorate consistently find ways to solve our nation’s greatest challenges,” Col. Tony Meeks, director of AFRL’s Munitions Directorate, said in an April 29 news release.
According to the release, an F-15E Strike Eagle bombed an unknown ship using a GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Footage released of the test shows a cargo vessel struck amidships by the bomb before being shrouded in a massive cloud of water. Within 30 seconds, the entire ship is below the waves and consigned to the deep.
The technology isn’t really new: the bomb is simply a JDAM, a kit that upgrades “dumb” bombs to guided smart bombs. When applied to a massive 2,000-pound bomb like that used in this most recent test, the Quicksink weapon is capable of putting far more explosive power into an enemy ship than many other weapons, such as anti-ship missiles or most submarine-launched torpedoes.
By comparison, the Harpoon anti-ship missile, the US’ bread-and-butter anti-ship projectile, carries a warhead of just 488 pounds. The French-made Exocet missile that sank the UK Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield off the Falkland Islands in 1982 carried a warhead of just 364 pounds.
The problem is that JDAMs are designed to strike stationary ground targets, not moving ships at sea. During World War II, gravity bombs proved capable of sinking even large capital ships like the HMS Prince of Wales, but the advent of more advanced air defense technology made standoff-range attacks with missiles the preferable way to sink ships in the late 20th century - a limitation that remains with Quicksink.
The primary advantage of Quicksink, The War Zone notes, is that the Air Force can produce them cheaply and quickly. In addition, the AFRL release notes that bombing a vulnerable enemy vessel doesn’t risk giving away a submarine’s position like it would if the submarine fired a torpedo at the ship.
The first Quicksink tests took place in 2021 and involved three F-15Es and a B-52H Stratofortress bomber, but focused mainly on assessing “the viability of specific maritime impact conditions,” according to the USAF, which noted that the main goal from its point of view was moving away from the “less than ideal” GBU-24 Paveway laser-guided bomb.
However, those weren’t the first tests of JDAMs as an anti-ship weapon, either: in 2004, the former USS Schenectady, a retired tank lander, was blown to pieces by four 2,000-pound JDAMs dropped by a B-52 bomber.
© TSGT RICHARD FREELAND, USAFThe USS SCHENECTADY, a 522-foot tank landing ship that was decommissioned in 1993, lists after being struck by seven 2,000lb Joint Defense Attack Munitions (JDAM) missiles during exercise Resultant Fury at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the Island of Kauai, Hawaii, on Nov. 23, 2004. (USAF Photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Freeland) (Released) Location: KAUAI, HAWAII (HI) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA)
The USS SCHENECTADY, a 522-foot tank landing ship that was decommissioned in 1993, lists after being struck by seven 2,000lb Joint Defense Attack Munitions (JDAM) missiles during exercise Resultant Fury at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the Island of Kauai, Hawaii, on Nov. 23, 2004. (USAF Photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Freeland) (Released) Location: KAUAI, HAWAII (HI) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA) - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.05.2022
The USS SCHENECTADY, a 522-foot tank landing ship that was decommissioned in 1993, lists after being struck by seven 2,000lb Joint Defense Attack Munitions (JDAM) missiles during exercise Resultant Fury at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the Island of Kauai, Hawaii, on Nov. 23, 2004. (USAF Photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Freeland) (Released) Location: KAUAI, HAWAII (HI) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA)
“The JDAM was (designed) to strike immobile targets, and the (targeting system) had been tested against land-based moving targets, so putting them together ... was valuable for us to gather data, but also an excellent demonstration of our capabilities,” Jim Jeter, 28th Test Squadron project manager, said in an USAF release at the time.
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