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US Air Force orders laser small diameter bombs from Boeing

Boeing has been awarded a $10.5 million contract to produce Laser Small Diameter Bombs for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a Thursday, December 7 press release.

“The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, has been awarded a $10,521,827 firm-fixed-price contract for laser small diameter bombs,” the release said.

The sole-source acquisition contract has an expected completion date of March 6, 2019.

Small Diameter Bomb gives precision stand-off strike capability

The GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb is a 250-pound precision-guided glide bomb with a stand-off range of more than 40 nautical miles (74 km). It uses a GPS-aided inertial navigation system to attack fixed or stationary targets.

The GBU-39B/B Laser Small Diameter Bomb variant integrates the JDAM’s semi-active laser, enabling the bomb to hit targets moving at up to 80 km/h (50 mph) and has been fielded by the U.S. Special Operations Command since 2014.

The Small Diameter Bomb system is designed to enable aircraft to carry a higher number of smaller, more accurate bombs. Many U.S. Air Force aircraft – including the F-15E, F-16, F-117, B-1, B-2, F-22 and F-35 – can carry a pack of four GBU-39 SDBs in place of a single 2,000-pound bomb.

On November 27, the Department of Defense said General Atomics was awarded a $17.5 million contract to integrate the Laser Small Diameter Bomb onto the MQ-9 Reaper drone, but the following day it published a correction, saying the contract “has not yet been awarded.”

The integration of the 250-pound precision-guided glide bomb, recently launched from F-22s to strike Taliban drug factories in Afghanistan, would give the Reaper a 75-km stand-off weapons capability and reduce the U.S. Air Force need for more expensive and dangerous manned missions.

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