A Boeing [NYSE: BA] Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) was successfully launched Tuesday over the Gulf of Mexico Test Range by a U.S. Air Force F-15E aircrew assigned to the 46th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
The 250-pound class, near precision-guided weapon was dropped from 30,000 ft. and accomplished a demanding series of flight maneuvers. The weapon, also identified as the GBU-39, traveled more than 25 miles before hitting the target. This was the third guided launch in just four months and exercised the entire SDB system to include the weapon, a four-bomb carriage, accuracy support, integrated logistics, and the mission planning.
"This flight was another indicator of the outstanding partnership between the Air Force and Boeing on this high-priority program. This is a warm-up for an unprecedented flight test schedule leading to an initial production decision in April 2005," said Col. Jim McClendon, director of Miniature Munitions, Eglin AFB.
The SDB is currently in a 36-month System Development and Demonstration phase that began in October 2003. Extensive ground and flight testing is currently underway for the stationary target increment of SDB. In a previous development period, the SDB completed six guided launches and extensive flight and ground testing.
"I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the SDB Team and the performance of this system," said Dan Jaspering, Boeing's Small Diameter Bomb program manager. "We are focused on doing what it takes to provide this critical capability to warfighters as promised in 2006."
At a compact 71 inches long and 7.5 inches wide, the SDB is the next generation low-cost precision strike weapon. It can be launched from a fighter, bomber or unmanned aircraft and will provide a stand-off range of 60 nautical miles. The weapon will be capable of penetrating more than three feet of steel-reinforced concrete. Its small size allows four weapons to be carried on the smart weapon stations used on F-15E, F/A-22, F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter), Joint Unmanned Combat Air System, and almost all other weapons platforms.
Boeing will build an estimated 24,000 weapons and 2,000 carriages over the next 10 years at its production facility in St. Charles , Mo. , at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. Development of the Increment II SDB (GBU-40) is planned to start in 2005.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis , Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $27 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world's largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.