Most of the bombs carried by Israeli airforce (IAF) fighters are getting either bigger or smaller. This trend is a result of the variety of missions the IAF is called to perform.
After equipping its F-15Is with small diameter bombs (SDB) the IAF is considering their use also on its F-16s.
The IAF’s F-15Is that were already equipped with the SDBs will achieve initial operational capability very soon.
The SDB has two variants. The GBU-39 250-pound bomb is equipped with an INS/GPS guidance system suitable for fixed and stationary targets. The second version, the GBU-40, is equipped with a terminal seeker with automatic target recognition capabilities and intended for use against moving targets.
The SDB dimensions increases the number of bombs a fighter aircraft carries, therefore raising the amount of targets it can kill in one sortie.
Lessons from the war in Lebanon and fighting in the Gaza Strip brought the IAF to prefer smaller bombs with limited collateral damage.
So while most of the big bombs are kept for “real ” wars, the smaller ones are being used more frequently in the ongoing low intensity conflicts that never end in the region.
When the F-35s eventually arrive in Israel, they also will be equipped with some new versions of SDBs that will fit the unique configuration of the stealth fighter.