Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb with 150km Range Proposed for Ukraine

Despite Ukraine’s requests the United States have been reluctant to provide the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System or ATACMS. The ATACMS has a range of 190 miles or 300km and the Department of Defense fears that if provided they could be used to strike targets inside Russia – which may escalate the conflict.

According to reports from Reuters the US is now exploring a proposal to provide Ukraine with the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB). GLSDB is a small, relatively cheap weapon capable of hitting targets 150km (or 95 miles) away. The system, developed by Saab and Boeing combines the GBU-39 precision-guided glide bomb, used by the USAF, with the spin-stabilized M26 rocket motor and body used by some munitions fired from the M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS.

In the spring the Pentagon called on the defense industry to propose weapons and system which could be rapidly assembled and fielded to support Ukraine. Over 1,000 proposals from 800 companies were reportedly received. While the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb is not a new concept it is one which might fit Ukraine’s need for an affordable and abundant long range strike munition.

Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (Saab-Boeing)

Reuters quotes ‘Boeing proposal to U.S. European Command’ but notes both the Pentagon and Boeing declined to comment. Saab describe the system as:

“SDB is a 250-pound class weapon with an Advanced Anti-Jam GPS System-aided Inertial Navigation System, combined with a multipurpose, penetrating blast-and-fragmentation warhead and programmable electronic fuze.”

The system is reportedly accurate to within one meter, capable of operating in all weathers and can be launched from either the M270 or M142, both of which are in operations with Ukrainian forces. While the GLSDB has been developed and tested, in October 2019, it is not currently in production and only limited low rate manufacture could be expected before the first half of 2023.