PANAMA CITY, Fla. –
Since WWII, the tactics needed to pave the way through from any surf zone (water depth up to 10 feet) to the shore to conduct a military operation has only grown in complexity, specialization, collaboration and importance. One of the today’s major mine countermeasures (MCM) capabilities used to successfully breach mines and obstacles within that littoral (coastal) battlespace prior to an amphibious assault is the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) Assault Breaching System (ABS) or (JABS).
This system is a combination of 2,000-lb guided bombs (MK 84 or BLU-117 JDAM) paired with Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division’s (NSWC PCD) lethality database and mission planning software in MINEnet Tactical, to ultimately help the warfighter neutralize identified targets based on mission objectives. JABS has also been a collaborative effort between NSWC PCD, NSWC Indian Head Division, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and support contractors from Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc.
After 21 years since the program’s inception, this team reached a milestone by completing their final test—characterizing JABS performance against a specific foreign anti-landing mine at an operationally relevant water depth—at Eglin AFB’s shallow water explosive test pond, Sept. 20, 2023. This was the final event in a long series of tests that characterized JABS performance against a range of mine types in different water and burial depths that the fleet may encounter.
“For the final test, and the test series in general, we were very happy with everything we have learned as every test helped us understand performance against that mine type, and improved our predictions against future similar targets. The final test results are being analyzed and will be delivered to MINEnet Tactical for use in assault breach mission planning,” said Jonathan Millhollon, NSWC PCD ABS project engineer. “Without the final test, the fleet would have less confidence planning against this threat type, and would either have to accept additional risk to the landing force or drop an excessive number of munitions to be confident that the threats had been cleared.”
In 2002, the program started when the Office of Naval Research began evaluating multiple technologies for assault breaching mission consideration. In 2006, the MK 84 JDAM was selected as a non-materiel solution by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council and assigned to the assault breaching mission via a DOTmLPF-P (also now known as doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy) change recommendation.
“NSWC PCD was involved from the beginning [by] testing and evaluating the performance of the various technologies against mines and obstacles. After the selection of the MK 84 JDAM as the JABS munition, NSWC PCD continued characterizing JABS against various foreign anti-tank and anti-landing mines in different water and burial depths since 2006,” said Millhollon. “NSWC PCD also developed and fielded JABS mission planning software for MEDAL and MINEnet Tactical, and developed tactics and doctrine for employing the system.”
Although the final test was completed, this collaborative team of professionals will still make their impact felt.
“[This fiscal year], the program will be transitioning to sustainment. We are wrapping up the data analysis from FY23, delivering our final lethality prediction curves to MINEnet Tactical, and archiving the past decades of data for future reference,” said Millhollon. “NSWC PCD is the mine warfare center of excellence, and JABS is the system of record for mine countermeasures in the surf zone and on the beach. During the interim, we will be standing by to support the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center as they review the updated JABS tactical memorandum for transition [to] doctrine, and we will maintain a reach-back capability for tactics or software support.”