June 16, 2024

Boeing just won a multi-billion-dollar contract from the U.S. government for so-called “smart” bombs.

Defense Today reports that the Department of Defense will pay the company $7.5 billion to convert unguided bombs into joint direct attack munitions, or JDAMs, through 2030.

Though Boeing is best known to the public for manufacturing commercial airliners, it derives a significant part of its business from its Defense, Space & Security segment, which accounted for 32% of its revenue last year. From the company’s latest annual report:

This segment engages in the research, development, production and modification of manned and unmanned military aircraft and weapons systems for strike, surveillance and mobility, including fighter and trainer aircraft; vertical lift, including rotorcraft and tilt-rotor aircraft; and commercial derivative aircraft, including anti-submarine and tanker aircraft. In addition, this segment engages in the research, development, production and modification of the following products and related services: strategic defense and intelligence systems, including strategic missile and defense systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), cyber and information solutions, and intelligence systems, satellite systems, including government and commercial satellites and space exploration.

Boeing’s defense business has drawn criticism lately. Boeing manufactures its JDAM conversion kits in the St. Louis, Missouri area, and students at Washington University in St. Louis have been calling on the school to cut ties with the company over its contributions to civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip. (The university’s supply chain management research center is named after Boeing, and it collaborates with the company on an engineering talent pipeline development program.) Boeing-converted and U.S.-supplied JDAMs are often used by the Israeli Defense Forces, often in areas populated heavily by civilians.

Earlier this month, Puget Sound, Washington public radio station KUOW found that 3,000 of the weapons were supplied to Israel between 2021 and 2023. The Biden administration paused a delivery of more of them to deter an incursion into the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip.

The station also found that the company manufactured the largest number of so-called small diameter bombs supplied to the IDF. A CNN investigation Wednesday found that one such weapon, made by Boeing, was used in a recent IDF attack on refugee camps in Rafah that killed at least 45 people.

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