GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb

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GBU-39/B (Small Diameter Bomb)
4 SDBs (training/ground handling variant) loaded on an F-15E Strike Eagle
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service2006–present
Used byUnited States
Saudi Arabia[1]
WarsWar in Afghanistan, Iraq War, Gaza War, Military intervention against ISIL, Syrian Civil War[2]
Production history
ManufacturerBoeing Integrated Defense Systems
Unit costUS$40,000 (SDB)[3]
US$250,000FY2014[4] (SDB II)
No. built17,000+[5]
Mass285 lb (129 kg)
Length70.8 in (1.80 m)[6]
Width7.5 in (190 mm)

WarheadSDB I (GBU-39/B)
penetrating blast fragmentation, penetrating steel nosecone[7]
blast ultra low fragmentation[8]
Laser SDB (GBU-39B/B)
penetrating blast fragmentation, w/o steel nosecone[7]
Warhead weightAll SDB I variants
206 lb (93 kg) total[7][8]
SDB I (GBU-39/B)
36 lb (16 kg) AFX 757 enhanced blast insensitive explosive, penetrating steel case and nosecone
137 lb (62 kg) AFX 1209 MBX ("multiphase blast explosive"), composite case
Laser SDB (GBU-39B/B)
36 lb (16 kg) AFX 757 enhanced blast insensitive explosive, penetrating steel case

All SDB I variants
more than 60 nmi (110 km)[6]
45 miles (72km) against moving targets[9]
SDB I (GBU-39/B)
Laser SDB (GBU-39B/B)
GPS / INS with terminal semi-active laser guidance
GPS / INS with dual-band two-way datalink, IIR and millimeter wave active radar homing
AccuracyAll SDB I variants
5–8 m CEP
1 m CEP est.

The GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) is a 250 lb (110 kg) precision-guided glide bomb that is intended to provide aircraft with the ability to carry a higher number of more accurate bombs. Most US Air Force aircraft will be able to carry (using the BRU-61/A rack) a pack of four SDBs in place of a single 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb.[10]

The Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) / GBU-53/B, adds a tri-mode seeker (radar, infrared homing, and semiactive laser guidance) to the INS and GPS guidance of the original SDB.[11]


GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb

The original SDB is equipped with a GPS-aided inertial navigation system to attack fixed/stationary targets such as fuel depots, bunkers, etc. The second variant (Raytheon's GBU-53/B SDB II) will include a thermal seeker and radar with automatic target recognition features for striking mobile targets such as tanks, vehicles, and mobile command posts.[12]

The small size of the bomb allows a single strike aircraft to carry more of the munitions than is possible using currently available bomb units. The SDB carries approximately 36 lb (16 kg) of AFX-757 high explosive.[13] It also has integrated "DiamondBack" type wings which deploy after release, increasing the glide time and therefore the maximum range. Its size and accuracy allow for an effective munition with less collateral damage.[14] Warhead penetration is 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) of steel reinforced concrete under 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) of earth and the fuze has electronic safe and fire (ESAF) cockpit selectable functions, including air burst and delayed options.[15]

The SDB I has a circular error probable (CEP) of 5–8 m (16–26 ft).[14] CEP is reduced by updating differential GPS offsets prior to weapon release. These offsets are calculated using an SDB Accuracy Support Infrastructure, consisting of three or more GPS receivers at fixed locations transmitting calculated location to a correlation station at the theatre Air Operations Center. The corrections are then transmitted by Link 16 to SDB-equipped aircraft.

Alternative guidance and warheads[edit]

In November 2014, the U.S. Air Force began development of a version of the SDB I intended to track and attack sources of electronic warfare jamming directed to disrupt the munitions' guidance. The home-on-GPS jam (HOG-J) seeker works similar to the AGM-88 HARM to follow the source of a radio-frequency jammer to destroy it.[16][17]

In January 2016, the Air Force awarded a contract to Scientific Systems Co. Inc. to demonstrate the company's ImageNav technology, a vision-based navigation and precision targeting system that compares a terrain database with the host platform's sensor to make course corrections. ImageNav technology has demonstrated target geo-location and navigation precision greater than three meters.[18]

In January 2016, Orbital ATK revealed that the Alternative Warhead (AW), designed for the M270's GMLRS to achieve area effects without leaving behind unexploded ordnance, had been successfully tested on the SDB.[19]


In 2002, while Boeing and Lockheed Martin were competing to develop the Small Diameter Bomb, Darleen A. Druyun—at that time Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and Management—deleted the requirement for moving target engagement, which favored Boeing. She was later convicted of violating a conflict of interest statute.[20][21]

On May 1, 2009, Raytheon announced that it had completed its first test flight of the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II, which has a data link and a tri-mode seeker built with technology developed for the Precision Attack Missile.[22] And on August 10, 2010 the U.S. Air Force awarded a $450 million contract for engineering and development.[23]

Although unit costs were somewhat uncertain as of 2006, the estimated cost for the INS/GPS version was around US$70,000. Boeing and the Italian firm Oto Melara have signed a contract covering the license production of 500 GBU-39/B (INS/GPS) and 50 BRU-61/A racks for the Aeronautica Militare, at a cost of nearly US$34 million. US$317m was spent on R&D and spares for SDB II in FY13/14, with US$148.5m requested in these categories for FY15, the total budget split roughly 70:30 between USAF and USN.[4] SDB II production began in FY14 with 144 bombs for the USAF at a unit cost of US$250,000.[4] The FY15 budget requested 246 bombs at a cost of US$287,000 each.[4] When the Pentagon approved the SDB II for production and deployment in May 2015, it had a unit cost of US$115,000.[24]


  • October 2001 – Boeing is awarded the SDB contract.[25]
  • September 2005 – Small Diameter Bomb certified for operational test, evaluation.[26]
  • September 2006 – SDB team deliver the first SDBs to the USAF.[27]
  • October 2006 – Initial Operational Capability declared for SDB on the F15E.[28]
  • October 2006 – First use in combat.[29]
  • February 2008 – 1,000th SDB I and first 50 FLM delivered.[30]
  • September 2008 – Israel receives approval from the US Congress to purchase 1,000 bombs.[31]
  • December 2008 – Reportedly used against Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip, including underground rocket launchers.[31]
  • January 2009 – Unnamed Boeing official stated that they have yet to deliver any SDBs to Israel.[32]
  • June 2010 - FMS request by the Netherlands for 603 units and support equipment valued at US$44 million.[33]
  • August 2010 – U.S. Air Force selects Raytheon's GBU-53/B for Small Diameter Bomb II Program.[34]
  • 2014 - Work begins on home-on-GPS jam.[35]
  • May 2015 – SDB II approved by Pentagon for production and deployment on the F-15E.[24]
  • April 2016 - FMS request by Australia for 2,950 units and support equipment valued at US$386 million.[36]


The GBU-39/B began separation tests on the F-22 in early September 2007 after more than a year of sometimes difficult work to integrate the weapon in the weapons bay and carry out airborne captive carry tests.

The SDB is currently integrated on the F-15E Strike Eagle, Panavia Tornado, JAS-39 Gripen, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor, and AC-130W. Future integration is planned for the F-35 Lightning II, A-10 Thunderbolt II, B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, and AC-130J. Other aircraft, including UCAVs, may also receive the necessary upgrades.

The General Atomics Predator C is also planned to carry this weapon.[37]


GBU-39A/B – SDB Focused Lethality Munition (FLM)[edit]

Under a contract awarded in September 2006, Boeing developed a version of the SDB I which replaces the steel casing with a lightweight composite casing and the warhead with a focused-blast explosive such as Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME). This should further reduce collateral damage when using the weapon for pin-point strikes in urban areas.[38]

On 28 February 2008, Boeing celebrated the delivery of the first 50 FLM weapons.[39]

The USAF intends to use the same FLM casing on a weapon of 500 pounds (227 kg).[40]

In December 2013, Boeing delivered the last of the 500 FLMs under contract.[41]

GBU-39B/B – Laser SDB[edit]

In mid-2012, the U.S. Senate recommended zeroing out funding for the SDB II due to fielding delays with the F-35 Lightning II. With the delay in SDB II fielding, Boeing recommended an upgrade to their SDB as a temporary gap-filler to get desired performance at a fraction of the cost. Called the Laser Small Diameter Bomb (LSDB), it integrates the laser used on the JDAM to enable the bomb to strike moving targets. Boeing began testing the LSDB in 2011 and successfully hit targets traveling 30–50 mph (48–80 km/h).[42] In June 2013, the Air Force announced it would award Boeing a contract to develop and test the LSDB; the contract is for phase one part two engineering, integration and test, and production support and an LSDB Weapon Simulator. Boeing says the LSDB can be built at a lower cost than the planned Raytheon SDB II, as it will use the same semi-active laser sensor as the JDAM to hit moving and maritime targets. However, Boeing admits that it does not have the capability to engage targets in zero-visibility weather, as it lacks the SDB II's millimeter wave radar.[43] The Laser SDB began fielding with the U.S. Special Operations Command in 2014.[17][44]

SDB II (GBU-53/B)[edit]

In late September 2020, the SDB II (GBU-53/B) was cleared for operational service by USAF Air Combat Command on the F-15E Strike Eagle, after testing at Eglin Air Force Base. About a year of delay was caused by a clip restraint for the fins, with an early version suffering vibration fatigue. Testing with the F-35 is the next phase of the introduction into service.[45]

Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB)[edit]

Boeing and Saab Group have modified the Small Diameter Bomb with a rocket motor to be launched from ground-based missile systems such as the M270 MLRS.[46] With the Army demilitarizing cluster munitions from M26 rockets, the company says a special adapter case could reuse the rocket to launch the SDB. After the motor launches it to a high enough altitude and speed, the wings will deploy and glide the bomb to its target. The company believes it can fill a gap for long-range precision fires while using its smaller warhead to save larger rocket munitions for strategic targets. While typical MLRS systems follow a ballistic trajectory, the rocket-launched SDB can be launched to an altitude and glide on a selected trajectory.[47][48] Boeing and Saab Group conducted three successful GLSDB tests in February 2015. The system is cost-effective, utilizing an existing weapon paired with a stockpiled rocket motor, while maintaining the loadout on a rocket artillery system. Unlike other 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 GLSDB has a range of 150 km (93 mi), and can also hit targets 70 km (43 mi) behind it.[49][50][51] In a 2017 demonstration, the GLSDB engaged a moving target at a distance of 100 km. The SDB and rocket motor separated at altitude and the bomb used an SAL seeker to track and engage the target.[52] A 2019 test extended this range to 130 km against a target at sea.[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Saudi Arabia - Various Munitions and Support". Defense Security Cooperation Agency. 15 Oct 2013.
  2. ^ "Twitter status by @BabakTaghvaee". @BabakTaghvaee. 30 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Factsheets: GBU-39B Small Diameter Bomb Weapon System". 16 July 2012. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "United States Department Of Defense Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request Program Acquisition Cost By Weapon System" (PDF). Office Of The Under Secretary Of Defense (Comptroller)/ Chief Financial Officer. March 2014. p. 59.
  5. ^ Boeing, Saab test ground-launched small diameter bomb -, 16 June 2015
  6. ^ a b Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) - Boeing IDS.
  7. ^ a b c Boeing Small Diameter Bomb Increment I (SDB I)
  8. ^ a b Boeing SDB Focused Lethality Munition.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2014-05-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Boeing / Lockheed Martin SDB".
  11. ^ "GAO-13-294SP DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs" (PDF). US Government Accountability Office. March 2013. pp. 101–2. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Boeing Small Diameter Bomb II Successfully Engages Target in Flight Test". MediaRoom.
  13. ^ GALLET, Matthieu. "Boeing GBU-39/B SDB".
  14. ^ a b "GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb / Small Smart Bomb".
  15. ^ Boeing: Small Diameter Bomb.
  16. ^ Air Force to enable smart weapons to track and kill sources of electronic warfare (EW) jamming -, 13 November 2014
  17. ^ a b Guided-Bomb Makers Anticipate GPS Jammers -, 1 June 2015
  18. ^ Air Force tests technology that could enable smart munition to see the way to its target -, 14 January 2016
  19. ^ Lockheed Martin awarded Orbital ATK to produce its GMLRS Alternative Warhead for US Army -, 20 January 2016
  20. ^ "GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb / Small Smart Bomb".
  21. ^ "Comptroller General of the United States on Lockheed Martin Corporation--Costs" (PDF).
  22. ^ "Raytheon's GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II Completes First Flight".
  23. ^ "Air Force picks small diameter bomb". UPI.
  24. ^ a b Drew, James (15 May 2015). "Raytheon's Small Diameter Bomb II approved for production, deployment". Flightglobal. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on 17 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  25. ^ Boeing Awarded Small Diameter Bomb Contract – Boeing press release.
  26. ^ Small Diameter Bomb certified for operational test, evaluation, Air Force Print News
  27. ^ Small Diameter Bomb I delivered ahead of schedule, Air Force Print News
  28. ^ "ACC declares IOC for Small Diameter Bomb – Air Combat Command". Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
  29. ^ "Ancile".
  30. ^ Boeing Celebrates Small Diameter Bomb Delivery Milestones
  31. ^ a b Katz, Yaakov (2008-12-29). "IAF uses new US-supplied smart bomb". Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
  32. ^ Butler, Amy (2009-01-16). "Mystery SDB". Ares Blog. Aviation Week. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  33. ^ "The Netherlands – GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs". Defense Security Cooperation Agency. July 27, 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  34. ^ "Investor Relations | Raytheon Technologies Corporation".
  35. ^ Gould, Joe (31 May 2015). "Guided-Bomb Makers Anticipate GPS Jammers". Sightline Media Group. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  36. ^ "Australia – GBU-39 (Small Diameter Bomb Increment I)". Defense Security Cooperation Agency. April 6, 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  37. ^ "PREDATOR C Avenger UAV Great War Machine 2013". YouTube. 6 June 2013. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)YouTube link is archived, but video itself is not available.
  38. ^ "Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) - Defense Update". Archived from the original on 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  39. ^ "Boeing Celebrates Small Diameter Bomb Delivery Milestones".
  40. ^ "USAF Eyes Low-Yield Munitions".
  41. ^ Richardson, Doug (13 January 2014). "Boeing delivers final Focused Lethality Munition to USAF". IHS Jane's Missiles & Rockets. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  42. ^ Boeing: Laser Small Diameter Bomb Could Fill Gap -, 9 August 2012
  43. ^ USAF to award Boeing Laser SDB contract -, 28 June 2013
  44. ^ Surveillance Technology a Priority For Special Operations Forces -, July 2015
  45. ^ After yearlong delay, the US Air Force is ready to field Raytheon’s new smart bomb, Valerie Insinna,, 2020-10-14
  46. ^ Boeing and Saab Adapt Air Launched Small Bomb for Ground Launch. Accessed 30 May 2019.
  47. ^ Boeing furthers Ground-Launched SDB -, May 24, 2013
  48. ^ Boeing Developing Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb -, 22 October 2013
  49. ^ Boeing, Saab Unveil Ground Launched SDB -, 10 March 2015
  50. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-03-27. Retrieved 2017-03-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  51. ^ "Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) - Army Technology".
  52. ^ Ground launched SDB jointly made by Saab and Boeing. Army Recognition. 13 June 2018.
  53. ^ "Saab has together with Boeing conducted a successful long-range test firing of the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) in Norway". SAAB. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.

External links[edit]