Home Air US Air Force’s smart bombs on target in second Golden Horde test

US Air Force’s smart bombs on target in second Golden Horde test

US Air Force Golden Horde CSDB test
A 40th Flight Test Squadron F-16D Fighting Falcon circles the target after successfully dropping four bombs for the second Golden Horde test mission

The US Air Force has hailed its second test of the Golden Horde autonomous small diameter bombs a success after all four bombs hit their intended targets.

The second test, which took place near the Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on February 19, followed a less successful one from December last year.

The tests are part of a program called Golden Horde, which aims to develop bombs equipped with autonomy payloads that enable them to communicate with each other and avoid obstacles on their path to the target.

While the first two bombs that were launched form an F-16 Fighting Falcon in December failed to reach their test objective due to an improper weapon software load, the four bombs launched on February 19 all hit their intended targets.

US Air Force photo of the F-16 with four CSDBs under its left wing

Enabled by a home-on-GPS-jam seeker that gathers information about the battlespace, a software defined radio for communication between weapons and a processor preloaded with collaborative algorithms, the communicating bombs observe and react to a dynamic battlespace in real time, thereby increasing mission effectiveness within the enemy’s decision loop.

Col. Garry Haase, director of the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate said that the demonstrations would build the foundation for integrating this technology into a variety of other weapon systems.

The US Air Force plans to carry out another Golden Horde demonstration early this year and plans to transition the effort into a new phase with an open testing environment that will allow more parties to test and showcase their vision on collaborative weapons.