IAF receives first batch of Small Diameter Bombs

With 22.7 kg. of explosives, the GBU-39, a low-cost and highly precise weapon, can penetrate like a normal 900-kg. bomb.

November 7, 2010 01:28
2 minute read.
TWO TECHNICIANS look over the loading of 4 SDBs on

f15 strike eagle 311. (photo credit: courtesy)


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The Israel Air Force has significantly boosted its precisionstrike capabilities with the recent arrival of the first batch of GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) from the United States.

The 250-lb. (113.6-kg.) bomb was developed by Boeing Company as a low-cost weapon capable of high-precision and low-collateral damage strikes. Israel received approval from Congress in late 2008 to buy 1,000 units.

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Israel is the first country outside of the United States to receive the weapon.

The IAF has named the new bomb “Sharp Hail.” The total cost of the deal was $77 million.

The GPS-guided SDB is said to be one of the most accurate bombs in the world. It has the same penetration capabilities as a normal 900-kg. bomb, although it has only 22.7 kg. of explosives. At just 1.75 meters long, its small size increases the number of bombs an aircraft can carry and the number of targets it can attack in a sortie.

Tests conducted in the US have proven that the bomb can penetrate at least 90 cm. of steel-reinforced concrete.

The GBU-39 can be used in adverse weather and has a standoff range of more than 110 km. due to its pop-out wings.

This enables aircraft to attack more targets per sortie, since each weapon’s station can carry four bombs.

The first planes to have the GBU-39 are the IAF’s F- 15Is – which can carry around 20 of the bombs on its wings and fuselage, turning the aircraft into what defense officials termed a “killing machine.”

The new weaponry is slated to become operational within the IAF in the future and it is possible that the air force will decide, at a later stage, to upgrade its fleet of F-16Is so they too can carry the bombs.

Israel will receive its first shipment of Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits, which can be installed on existing bombs to increase their ability to hit moving targets.

The JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided “smart” weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail section that contains a Global Positioning System (GPS) and body improvements for additional stability and lift.

The newer version of the JDAM adds a laser seeker to the nose of a JDAM-equipped bomb, which improves its ability to hit moving targets with greater accuracy.

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