Exactly what the doctor ordered:
Almost tailor made for Israel’s Iran mission
Initial reaction to the stunning reversal by the US Defense Department to go ahead and provide Israel with its number one request in weapons procurement has been mixed. Many look at the size of the bomb and dismiss it for the Iran mission, however as shown below the exact opposite is indeed the case. In actuality, the Boeing designed SDB / GBU-39 is precisely what Israel needs should it undertake a dangerous Iranian mission.
Boeing GBU-39 SDB:
The Small Diameter Bomb appears ehhh.. small. At 250 pounds it is 1/8 the size of a conventional 1 ton pound Bunker Buster of legend, but that doesn’t mean it is not as lethal. The size reductions have a purpose, and in Israel’s case they are the optimal weapon for the mission to complement the traditional bunker buster already in Israel’s arsenal, and in many cases supersede its use specifically in targeting Iran’s programs. The SDB is smart, very smart which makes it much more versatile and more importantly it has the same penetrating power as a regular buster allowing it to bore through thick concrete & steel.
Tailor Made for Range
Israel’s prime difficulty in attacking Iran is summed up by one word, range. Possessing customized F-16s & F-15s which are supped up range machines decked with internal & external tanks Israel has the capability to fly to Iran & back, but the crucial factor is weight. The one ton smart bombs necessitate very small bomb load outs, an F-16 would be carrying one or two bunker buster bombs maximum in order to carry out the mission. Worse, it would be a flying pig unable to manoeuvre, if it encountered even light resistance in the form of aerial fighters or ground fire and SAMs it would need to jettison its bombs before even reaching the target just to survive.
Just as critical, whether already jettisoned, under fire, or simply missing the target as is not uncommon in bombing, these small load outs of one or two bombs due to range provide zero chance for even slight error as there is no more ordinance to use to make a second pass due to pressure, ground fire, or a miss. That’s where the SDB GBU-39 comes in. These bombs are rack mounted, each enclosure can carry 4 SDBs in the place of a single buster. This gives an immediate 4 to 1 bomb advantage, and each SDB can penetrate as far as a single buster. Now, the same F-16 can carry more bombs but with less weight improving its ability to fly, its distance abilities, gives it the ability to make multiple passes, hit the same target with multiple bombs.. It is easy to see that carrying 8 smaller bunker busters with ease which are also smarter in accuracy and ability is much better than carrying a single 1 ton bunker buster.
More benefits include brains, accuracy
The SDB is an all weather standoff weapon, meaning it can be dropped and will fly itself to the target using satellite guidance and or laser targeting up to 40 full miles away & hit within 6 feet of the mark, 40 miles is a heck of a lot of distance from a target for such accuracy. It puts Israeli fighters over Iran some distance away from the hot zone of the Iranian facilities which are now setup with brand new Russian TOR-M1 air defense systems. The Tor is pretty lethal, but it has very short range. It can only engage targets very close in… At 40 miles with 8 small bunker busters pre-programmed from the airbase before the mission to hit multiple points of an underground facility (spreading out the lethality better than a single 1000 pound buster,) Israeli fighters never even come close to the Tor-M1s girding the Iranian facility. Making the Tor defenses expensive paperweights.
Lethal, but only if it’s aimed at your head..
The GBU-39 is several generations ahead of the first Gulf War era (1991) bunker busters. It is very hard to jam the SDB, likely well beyond Iran’s ability. It is also lethally accurate allowing its use in populated areas with much less collateral damage. Many of Iran’s secret nuclear facilities have been built in populated areas like Tehran in order to specifically use their population as human shields, comforted in the knowledge that America & Israeli forces do not drop one ton bombs lightly if hundreds will be killed. The SDB like a surgical knife can cut these facilities right out of the heart of Tehran.
Versatility has more payoffs
The GBU-39 SDB is small enough to be carried by unmanned aircraft. Israel is a world leader in the field and possesses fighter sized versions capable of heights of 50,000 feet. Out of range of defenses and able to loiter sipping fuel for hours these wonders armed with new smaller bombs with equal penetration power can wreak havoc on Iran. The pre-programmed bombs can be launched at will showering fortified targets before an Israeli pilot even takes off, or perhaps.. Well after he has already landed.
Redundancy with a 4 to 1 ratio in bomb load for misses and unforeseen events, the ability to hit a target with multiple bombs each staggered a few feet away covering a large facility, the ability to fly farther & longer in the F-16I Sufa (Storm) & F-15I Raam (Thunder), the same penetrating power, long range 40 mile standoff avoiding defenses all together, satellite accuracy pre-programmed before take off.. All of these factors make the GBU-39 tailor made for the Israel mission.
In the realm of bang for the buck, the SDB is despite being a fourth the size – Standing head & shoulders above the 1 ton buster for the Iran mission. In effect, the sale of these bombs has virtually enlarged Israel’s Iranian capable fighter numbers by at least a third, probably more like another 50%. Instead of 200 aircraft, it is as if 300 are undertaking the mission if they are armed with the lighter more effective weapons. In enclosed spaces like bunkers with sensitive equipment inside, the small boom of 3 or 4 SDBs is better than a single 1000 pound bomb, can cover more area, and do even more damage.
Video: Discovery Channel’s future weapons series on the GBU-39 SDB