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PARIS: Boeing, Saab test ground-launched small diameter bomb

Boeing and Saab have extended their cooperation agreement – which already includes working on a clean-sheet jet trainer design for the US Air Force’s T-X contest – to trial a novel new application for the former’s SDB I small diameter bomb.

Proven during a series of three test firings performed at Sweden’s Vidsel range earlier this year, the ground-launched SDB used a Nammo-produced booster rocket to propel the weapon from a guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS).

According to the partners, the result is a precision strike capability with a range of up to 81nm (150km), and capable of replacing GMLRS M26 rounds which do not meet the terms of the Oslo Treaty banning the use of cluster munitions.

In one test, the 113kg (250lb) SDB I made a “reverse slope” attack. Boeing says this flight profile could be employed to attack a cave or tunnel entrance on the far side of a mountain from a launcher.

The test activity was conducted with representatives from multiple nations in attendance, says Debbie Rub, general manager of Boeing’s global strike division. “No-one has yet said ‘I want to buy this’ today, but we were amazed at the interest out of several nations,” she says.

“This is not a development programme; it’s an integration of two proven products,” notes Ulf Hellberg, who is heading Saab’s involvement in the jointly-funded activity. Deliveries of all-up GLSDB rounds could commence within 18 to 24 months of a contract award, the partners say.

Rub says Boeing has so far produced more than 17,000 SDB I weapons for eight air forces. “We build several thousand a year, and in recent operations against ISIL it has been the weapon of choice,” she adds.

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