Small Diameter Bomb I delivered ahead of schedule

  • Published
The culmination of more than five years of extraordinary teamwork was realized when the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb was successfully delivered to the warfighter ahead of schedule and under cost.

"This achievement represents an unparalleled team victory for the combined Air Armament Center and Boeing Team," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Riemer, AAC commander and program executive officer for weapons. That combined team includes the 46th Test Wing, Air Force Research Lab, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Air Combat Command, Aeronautical Systems Center, and the SDB I Program Office.

"We are excited about the successful deployment of this weapon, and the addition of SDB I to the lethal options the F-15E (Strike Eagle) can now employ in the war on terrorism," General Riemer said.

This advanced weapon packs a big punch, delivering precision-guided accuracy within 1.2 meters of the aim point. This accuracy combined with a smaller warhead gives the warfighter a tool with two particularly attractive characteristics; the ability to have desired effects while minimizing the potential for collateral damage.

With the introduction of SDB I to the Air Force inventory, the Strike Eagle aircrews also benefit from increased weapon employment range. SDB I has a standoff range of up to 60 nautical miles in front of the aircraft, 40 miles to the left and right of the aircraft and can even turn around and attack targets behind the aircraft.

"A 250-pound bomb is going to have a smaller lethal zone around the impact point than the larger weapons we currently have in the inventory, so SDB I is less likely to create collateral damage," said Col. Richard Justice, 918th Armament Systems Group commander.

"When you combine that with the precision and reliability that SDB I brings to the fight, it increases the flexibility of the combatant commanders to prosecute targets previously deemed too sensitive to engage," Colonel Justice said.

SDB I gives the warfighter four weapons on every precision-guided missile weapon station; four weapons in place of one. The four-place carriage (BRU-61/A) developed and manufactured by the Boeing Team to carry SDBs virtually eliminates periodic maintenance and cleaning. It's a pneumatically operated carriage versus the traditional, explosively operated carriage that fires a cartridge to release the weapon. After a number of firings, these current inventory carriages must be cleaned, a labor-intensive operation.

"With the BRU-61, when the planes return from a mission, they can either download the carriage and upload a new carriage, already loaded with weapons, or they can replace expended weapons on the existing rack. No other maintenance is required," Colonel Justice said.

"When you look at executing acquisition programs, there are three things you generally worry about; meeting user requirements, doing it on the schedule you've agreed to, and doing those two things within the funds you've been given," Colonel Justice said. "SDB I has met or exceeded every requirement it has been given. It did that on schedule, using fewer research and development dollars than planned, and is 23 percent cheaper per unit than required."

"When you look at all that, this program is exceptionally rare," he said. "Meeting requirements ahead of schedule, under cost. It's an incredible achievement for Team Eglin, Boeing and Boeing suppliers." 

(Courtesy of the 918th Armament Systems Group)