The Pentagon is considering a proposal by Boeing to supply Ukraine with rocket-propelled precision-guided bombs that would allow Kiev forces to strike far behind Russian lines, Reuters reported on November 28.
Sources in the United States military industrial complex told the news agency that Boeing’s proposed system, dubbed Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), is one of about a half-dozen plans for getting new munitions into production for Ukraine and Washington’s allies in East Europe.
The GLSDB, which was developed by Boeing and Sweden’s Saab, combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket motor.
The 129-kilogram SDB is guided by a GPS-aided inertial navigation system. The gild bomb can hit targets 150 kilometers away when launched by the M26 rocket motor as a part of the GLSDB system.
Unlike traditional artillery weapons, the GLSDB offers 360-degree coverage for high and low angles of attack, flying around terrain to hit targets on the back of mountains, or circling back around to a target behind the launch vehicle.
The system non-ballistic trajectory makes its more flexible, but its low speed means that it will be more exposed to air defense fire.
Kiev forces will be able to launch the GLSDB from its newly-acquired M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS).
Both the SDB and the M26 are common in the US arsenal. The system could be delivered to Kiev forces by early 2023 using surplus bombs from the conflict in Afghanistan.
Although the United States has rebuffed Ukraine’s requests for the ATACMS tactical missile that has a range of 297 kilometers, the GLSDB’s 150 kilometer range would allow Ukraine to hit valuable Russian targets. From the outskirts of the city of Kherson, the system can reach military positions, key facilities and urban centers in the Crimean Peninsula.
Supplying Ukraine with the GLSDB system would be a major escalation on the part of the U.S. Russia will likely respond in a way or another.