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Free fall bombs

The Mk80 LDGP bombs family are used in majorityof bombing operations.

This weapons were developed at the beginning of 1950 to fulfill a USAF requirement for a low drag family of bombs having good ballistic characteristics in order to reduce the CEP (the radius from the aim point that half of the bomb dropped will fall within).

All the bombs of this family have a similar structure: a bomb body with a cylindrical shape and a conical tail section which helps to stabilize the bomb in flight, keeping it nose-down during its descent. This conical tail section can be replaced by a high-drag retarder assembly when a low-level weapon release path is needed: this assembly, known as Snakeye, has four metal vanes that opens into the wind stream to slow the bomb after release, thereby reducing the chance of the aircraft being hit by its own bomb fragment.

The bomb case is relatively light and approximately 45% of their complete weight is explosive. General purpose bombs may use both nose and tail fuzes to ensure reliability and produce effect of blast, cratering or fragmentation.

Four bomb size are available:

  • Mk 81 - 250lbs
  • Mk82 - 500lbs
  • Mk83 - 1000lbs
  • Mk84 - 2000lbs

This bombs are usually employed against non armored targets such as artillery units, AAA, SAM and SCUD sites, radar installation, etc.[top]

Laser-guided GBU-16

The General Purpose Mk80 bombs can be fitted with a laser guidance kit that allows great accuracy in weapons delivery: this kit turns a normal Mk80 into a GBU-10 (Mk84 - 2000lbs bomb body), a GBU-12 (MK82 - 500 lbs bomb body) or a GBU-16 (Mk83 - 1000 lbs bomb body) Laser Guided Bomb.

The guidance kit is made up of a Computer-Control Group (CCG), guidance canard to provide steering command and a wing assembly attached to the aft end of the weapon to provide lift. The Italian Air force acquired the GBU-16 Paveway II to arm its Tornado and AMX: the Paveway II program features better electronics, maneuverability, and foldable tail fin.

The LGB needs the target to be illuminated by a laser source: this source can be either airborne or ground based. When the bomb is released its internal seeker detects the laser energy reflected by the target: this signal is then processed by the CCG which moves the canard winglets attempting to align its velocity vector with the line-of-sight vector of the target, thus guiding the weapon to the target. The canard deflections are always full scale (referred to as "bang-bang" guidance).

The Italian Air Force uses the CLDP (Convertible Laser Designator Pod) as targeting system: it is usually installed only on Tornado aircraft which perform buddy-lasing for the AMXs.

Technical specifications
Length: 3.68 m
Diameter: 350 mm
Stabilizer span: 0.72 m (closed fins)
1.68 m (open fins)
Explosive filler: 202 Kg (Tritonal)


Lizard LGB

LIZARD is an advanced new generation laser-guided bomb used for air-to-surface attacks of a variety of targets that are illuminated by a laser designator.

The LIZARD system features high accuracy, all digital electronics, and compatibility with a broad range of airborne and ground laser designators. The LIZARD modular design provides growth for Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance capability in adverse weather scenario and an alternative Autonomous Imaging InfraRed seeker for attack of a variety of mobile targets.[top]


The Convertible Laser Designation Pod, developed by Thomson CSF, is the choice of the AMI for a laser tracking and designator pod.

It is operative with Tornado Units and studies have been made to fit this equipment on the AMX as well.

The CLDP is fitted with a visible spectrum TV camera and an optional infrared filter; thanks to its modular conception, the forward section containing the optronic devices can be removed and a new section containing an infrared sensor for night operations mounted instead. In line with the TV camera a laser designator/range finder is provided allowing targeting and distance measurement.

Although it is defined as "sensor", it features powerful self processing capabilities and may provide processed data to the aircraft computers; the system keeps the target illuminated in spite of aircraft manoeuvres using either a refined image correlation technique or a contrast search technique.[top]


This guidance kit, fitted on a Mk 82/83 GP (General Purpose) bomb body, is made up of a IIR seeker, a computer-control group, a forward section assembly with control surfaces and a tail assembly with foldable fins.

After releasing, the weapon performs an initial ballistic trajectory and, after a certain delay, the IIR seeker start scanning for a target. When it locks on a target with a suitable IR signature the guidance & control system makes the necessary correction to home the weapon to the target.

The Opher is a fire-and-forget weapon and doesn't need an external designation system like the GBU-16; it's an excellent performer against MBT and other armored vehicles.[top]

GBU-31/32 (JDAM)

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AIM-9L Sidewinder

The Sidewinder is the most widespread Air-to-Air missile in the world; its first version, the AIM-9B, entered service in 1953 and since then it has been continuously updated up to the latest versions AIM-9L and AIM-9M and it boasts many imitation attempts, like the Russian AA-2 “Atoll” or the Israeli Rafael “Shafrir 2”.

It features four detachable double-delta control surfaces behind the nose and a roll stabilizing rear wing/rolleron assembly. The main components of the missiles are an infrared homing guidance system with “all aspect” capability, an explosive/fragmentation warhead weighting about 10 Kg and an active optical target detector. According to the avionic system of the carrier aircraft, the missile can be fired in two modes:

  • “Boresight Mode”: IR seeker slaved to the aircraft weapon aiming system
  • “Scan Mode”: IR seeker performs autonomous scanning
Technical specification
Length: 2.87 m
Diameter: 127 mm
Wing span: 0.64 m
Weight: 87 Kg
Warhead: 9.5 Kg HE/fragmentation
Fuze: Active Laser
Guidance: IR
Propulsion sys.: Rocket motor, solid propellant
Range: 8 Km


M61-A1 Vulcan

The AMX is fitted with the well known and widespread M-61 A1 Vulcan gun, mounted on the port side of the nose. The Vulcan, developed by General Electric in 1953, is the standard weapon of many NATO aircraft; the gun is hydraulically driven, six barreled, rotary action, air cooled weapon which fires 20mm ammunitions with a selectable rate of either 4000 or 6000 rounds per minute. The gun can be loaded with up to 500 armor piercing or high explosive/incendiary rounds, stored in an armored drum.[top]