The Boeing company has announced that the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) was
successfully launched from an F-15E Strike Eagle over the Gulf of Mexico Test
Range during a flight test on 10 August 2004.
The 250-pound SDB, now named the GBU-39, was dropped from the US Air Force F-15E
at 30,000-ft (9,150 meters) accomplishing a series of flight maneuvers aimed at
assessing the weapon performance. After released, the GBU-39 traveled more than
25 nautical miles (+46 kilometers) before hitting its intended target. This was
the third successful guided launch in four months and involved the entire
system: the GBU-39, a four-bomb carriage, guidance support, integrated logistics
and mission planning.
The SDB is currently in a 36-month system development and demonstration (SDB)
phase that began in October 2003 with a production decision expected in April
2005. The new weapon should be available for users in 2006. Air Force plans call
for Boeing to build 24,000 weapons and 2,000 carriages valued at $2.5 billion
over the next 10 years. Development of the Increment II SDB (longer range SDB?),
named GBU-40, will start in 2005.
The small size GBU-39 is a compact weapon featuring 71 inches (1.8 meters) long,
7.5 inches (19 cm) wide and 250-pounds (113 kg) of weight. It can be launched
from fighters (F-15E, F/A-22 and F-35), bombers (B-2) or unmanned aircraft (J-UCAS)
at standoff ranges of 60 nautical miles (+110 kilometers). Moreover, the weapon
will be capable of penetrating more than 3-ft (+90 cm) of steel-reinforced
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