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By 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin
A B-52H Stratofortress attached to the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron validated the ability to deploy inert Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) QuickStrike Extended Range (QS-ER) mines from a standoff distance of more than 40 miles off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in early March, 2023.
The QS-ER mine marries the concept of a Mk64 underwater mine to that of the GBU-64v1 JDAM Extended Range variant. The resulting weapon is the 2,000-pound QS-ER mine.
Traditionally mines are employed as unguided gravity weapons, forcing the aircraft to fly at lower altitudes and releasing the mines at multiple intervals rather than single releases. This means the mission cannot be accomplished in a contested waterway without accepting a high level of risk. But the QS-ER program changes this concept completely.
“What’s unique about QS-ER is its range and precision,” said Lt. Col. Matt Spinelli, 49th TES commander. “We can now release in a Launch Acceptability Region at various speeds and altitudes and have the weapon land with incredible accuracy. This reduces the number of weapons needed to affect the mine field and makes the delivery platform more survivable.”
The QS-ER began as a Joint Emergent Operational Need (JEON) in 2015 in an effort to advance aerial mining capability. The 49th TES’ recent test marks the fourth Operational Demo (OD) since QS-ER’s inception. The QS-ER program is pursuing Flight Certification for a 12-store carriage from the B-52H to meet Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in FY24.
“The strategic environment demands we move faster and we in the 53rd Wing are taking that to heart, thinking and executing outside the normal while adhering to test rigor to bring new capability to the warfighter and combatant commanders as fast we can; we aren’t speeding, we are setting new speed limits,” said Spinelli.
The test event was led by a collaborative effort between the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), 53rd Wing, 307th Bomb Wing, and the 780th Test Squadron. This concept aligns with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s efforts in advancing maritime capabilities.
For more information, contact 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin, Public Affairs Advisor for the 53rd Wing at 850-598-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 53rd Wing perfects lethality by testing new operational capabilities and evaluating fielded capabilities. They bring the future faster by answering warfighter demands for integrated, multi-domain capabilities.