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For the U.S. military and some allies, the GBU-15 and its derivatives represent the operational state of electro-optical guided bombs. The basic weapon is a 2000-pound bomb built around a Mark 84, BLU-109 or BLU-118 warhead. Its operator sees the target either with low-light television or thermal imaging, and may either fly it into the target with "man-in-the-loop" guidance via a birectional AN/AXQ-14 data link, or show the guidance system the target seen by the operator, and release it in "fire and forget" mode.

To increase the range of the basic GBU-15 glide bomb, the AGM-130 was a simple enhancement that added a rocket booster. AGM-130 air-to-surface missiles are relatively inexpensive; the Royal Australian Air Force chose, instead, the more capable AGM-142 Raptor.

Electro-optical techniques are for terminal guidance. If the target has strong air defenses or there are other reasons why the carrying aircraft does not want to come near the target, the EBGU-15 adds GPS-satellite assisted inertial navigation to let the weapon fly a guided midcourse path. At the end of this path, the operator takes over with electro-optical guidance.

While both the EBGU-15 and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) use the same technique of midcourse navigation, not all JDAMs have imaging terminal guidance. More common for JDAMs is laser guidance, as with the GBU-54. Laser guidance, however, requires a ground or airborne observer to illuminate the target with a laser designator, while electro-optical guidance is more self-contained, observing directly from the bomb.