The Pentagon is considering Boeing's proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, small, high-precision bombs that would allow Kiev to strike far behind Russian troops at a distance of up to 150 km.
Reuters learned about this from sources.
Boeing's proposed system, dubbed the Small Diameter Ground-Based Bomb (GLSDB), could be delivered as early as spring 2023, according to a document seen by the agency. The GLSDB combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket engine.
Although the United States rejected a request to transfer the ATACMS missile with a range of 297 km, the range of the GLSDB is 150 km, which would allow Ukraine to hit valuable military targets that were previously unreachable behind Russian lines.
The GLSDB is jointly produced by SAAB AB and Boeing and has been under development since 2019.
According to Boeing's proposal to the US European Command (EUCOM), which oversees weapons destined for Ukraine, the main components of the GLSDB will come from existing US warehouses.
The M26 rocket motor is relatively affordable, and the GBU-39 costs about $40,000 a piece, making the GLSDB inexpensive and its major components readily available.
The GLSDB is GPS controlled, can overcome some electronic interference, can be used in all weather conditions and can be used against armored vehicles. The GBU-39, which will function as a GLSDB warhead, has small swept wings that allow it to reach a target over 100 km when launched from an aircraft and engage targets up to 90 cm in diameter.
Although several GLSDB units have already been produced, there are many logistical obstacles to formal procurement.
Boeing's plan calls for a price waiver that exempts the contractor from an in-depth review that guarantees the Pentagon the best possible offer. Any deal would also require at least six suppliers to speed up their supply of parts and services to rapidly produce the weapons.