The Guided Bomb Unit-39/B small diameter bomb was flown into combat for the
first time October 5 by members of the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
The unit, deployed to the Southwest Asia area of operations, launched a two-ship
formation of F-15E Strike Eagles at 1:30 a.m. EDT carrying the new air-to-ground
bomb on a mission to provide close-air support for ground troops operating in
"Today, we added an extraordinary capability to our warfighter's arsenal," said
Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, the Combined Forces Air Component commander. "The
GBU-39/B (small diameter bomb) provides the Air Force with the ability to reduce
collateral damage, while providing joint terminal attack controllers another
option to prosecute targets. It is a significant milestone for our coalition
forces fighting the global war on terror.
"This new air-to-ground munition gives our warfighters the explosive power of a
conventional bomb without the fragmentation and blast area of other weapons in
our inventory," he said.
The new bomb, the first of its kind in the Air Force inventory, gives aircrews
the ability to destroy targets that would normally be "passed over" due to the
proximity of friendly troops, civilians, structures or personal property. As the
smallest guided bomb in the Air Force, munitions crews are able to load more of
the 250-pound bombs onto an aircraft, compared to larger, heavier guided
"Obviously, because of its size, our aircraft are able to carry more individual
weapons into battle, benefiting the Soldiers on the ground with more
opportunities to defend their positions, while precisely destroying targets that
would threaten American, coalition and Iraqi lives," General North said.
"The SDB is uniquely qualified for urban targets that call for precision
accuracy and reduced collateral damage and in close-air-support missions that
our aircrews find themselves in during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation
Enduring Freedom," General North said. "We now have the ability to put ordnance
in places where collateral damage might be a concern."
The F-15E Strike Eagle squadron, and its corresponding aircraft maintenance
unit, from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, is the first unit deployed in
the war on terrorism with the capability to employ the SDB. For some of these
Airmen, Operation Iraqi Freedom marks the first time they will drop live bombs
on enemy targets.
Aircrews began training on the academics of the bomb and in simulators in May,
said Capt. Matt Hund, 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron chief of weapons and
The SDB is an all-weather Global Positioning System-guided munition capable of
standoff ranges in excess of 40 miles. Aircrews have the ability to hit single
or multiple targets on one bombing pass by programming GPS coordinates into the
"We can drop our entire payload of small diameter bombs at one time and each
weapon will independently track to its own target," Captain Hund said. "Or, we
drop one small diameter bomb at a time, depending on what the forces on the
ground need and the type of target we're going to destroy."
Additionally, the pilot or weapons system officer can reprogram the SDB with
different fuses for different targets while the aircraft is en route to its
target. The bomb, once dropped, rolls and its 5-foot diamond-back wings pop out
as it glides to its target.
To ensure all goes well with the first SDB deployment, members of the Air
Armament Center's 681st Armament Systems Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.,
are on hand to provide expert advice as the bomb and aircraft are integrated for
combat operations. Capt. Jim Parslow, the SDB Systems Flight commander, oversaw
the loading of the small bomb as weapons loaders secured the weapons to the
aircraft for their first combat sortie.
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