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Politico: Ukraine to receive first GLSDB rocket-propelled bombs with 150 km range on Jan. 31

Ukraine will receive the first ground-launched small-diameter bombs with 150 km range on 31 January, per Politico sources. The US announced GLSDB supplies early last year, but the new weapon’s testing lasted months.
The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB). Photo:
Politico: Ukraine to receive first GLSDB rocket-propelled bombs with 150 km range on Jan. 31

The Pentagon has completed successful tests of a new long-range precision bomb for Ukraine, set to reach the battlefield by 31 January, as reported by two US officials and sources familiar with the discussions, Politico says. This bomb, with a range of about 150 kilometers, is anticipated to enhance Ukraine’s capabilities significantly, according to one US official.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry noted that Ukraine’s long-range capabilities were a topic at the recent Ramstein-format meeting, without detailing the specific weapon systems discussed. Now, Ukraine is set to receive the first batch of Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB), a novel long-range weapon not yet in the US arsenal, as confirmed to Politico by four sources granted anonymity to speak on the matter before an official announcement. 

What long-range weapons Ukraine can get in the wake of Ramstein-18 meeting

“It gives them a deeper strike capability they haven’t had, it complements their long-range fire arsenal,” the US official told Politico. “It’s just an extra arrow in the quiver that’s gonna allow them to do more.”

The bomb enhances Ukraine’s long-range capabilities, used for targeting Russian logistics and Crimea targets, supplementing existing stocks, including the Storm Shadow/SCALP and US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), as Ukraine’s munitions deplete.

Ground forces’ rocket-propelled bomb

The weapon, a collaboration between Boeing and Saab, consists of a 250-pound precision-guided bomb attached to a rocket motor, launchable from various ground systems. While the US military possesses an air-launched variant, this ground-launched version is not yet in its inventory. Its extended range offers Kyiv a new capability amidst a frontline stalemate, providing Ukraine with means to target Russian forces and infrastructure further beyond the front lines.

The GLSDB has a striking range of 150 kilometers, according to SAAB. The Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB I) is an air-launched precision-guided glide bomb used by air forces in 14 countries. The SDB serves as the warhead for the GLSDB.

The GLSDB can be launched from a container, allowing it to engage targets in all directions without relocating the launcher. Additionally, any launcher compatible with the MLRS Launch pod container, such as the M270, HIMARS, or CHUNMOO, can deploy the GLSDB. Ukraine has the M270 and HIMARS launchers.

“GLSDB leverages the investment made by these Air Forces and provides a low cost capability for land forces,” SAAB says.

New US funding still in limbo, but GLSDB was purchased earlier

At the end of 2023, the Pentagon has run out of money to fund new military aid for Ukraine, as the Congressional Republicans have been stalling the new assistance package for Ukraine for months. Notably, while no additional funds are available for authorizing weapon transfers from existing stocks, the US had previously entered into a contract with Boeing to supply this weapon to Ukraine in the preceding year.

According to media reports, the US considered GLSDB supplies to Ukraine in late 2022, with deliveries initially planned for the spring of 2023.

The US announced an aid package containing the GLSDB in February 2023, long before Congress started to delay the approval of new funds for Ukraine in the fall of 2023.

Before sending the new weapon, the US military conducted extensive testing of the GLSDB, which extended over several months. Ukraine will serve as the inaugural battleground for this bomb.

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