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Defense Express: Ukraine uses GLSDB for the first time in human history, shocks Russia

Ukraine received and used the GLSDB, a bomb that can pierce reinforced concrete and has various guidance options, without announcing it, leaving the Russian forces stunned by the new weapon.
The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB). Photo: saab.com
Defense Express: Ukraine uses GLSDB for the first time in human history, shocks Russia

The Ukrainian Armed Forces started to use the long-range Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) to hit Russian military infrastructure in the occupied territories of Ukraine, the Defense Express, the Ukrainian OSINT group, reported.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces became the first in the world to use the GLSDB, a novel glide bomb not yet in the US arsenal capable of hitting targets within an operational range of 150 kilometers.

Russian troops filmed the GLSDB’s debris and posted it online. The Russians claimed that the wreckage of the GLSDB was found after a strike on Russian forces on 13 February near Kreminna in the Luhansk Oblast (eastern Ukraine).

The GLSDB is a glide bomb manufactured by Boeing and the Saab Group. GLSDBs can be launched from ground-based missile systems such as the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System & M142 HIMARS.

According to the Defense Express, a non-standard square-shaped element with steering surfaces and a barcode stood out among the wreckage shown by Russians in the video that was first published on Telegram on 14 February. The bomb’s debris shown in the footage made it easy for Ukrainian OSINT analysts to recognize the tail section of the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB), which is part of the GLSDB, together with the jet engine from the M26 unguided rocket.

“If we immediately exclude the option that Ukraine received just SDB bombs, then there are no other options but GLSDB. And given that nothing but the tail section of the bomb itself remains, we are also talking about the first successful combat use of GLSDB by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the first combat use of this system in the world,” the Defense Express reported.

Thus, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have become the first GLSDB operator because this novel weapon was ordered for the Ukrainian military by the US government under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) program and the expected date of delivery of the first batch of GLSDBs was winter or spring of 2024.

The USAI is a US Department of Defense-led funding program to increase Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself more effectively against Russian aggression through the further training of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and providing equipment.

On 30 January, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder confirmed that Ukraine would receive the ground-launched bombs (GLSDB) from the US. However, he explicitly stated that he would not confirm specific timelines.

Referring to four unnamed sources, Politico stated that Ukraine was set to receive the first batch of GLSDBs on 31 January 2024. There were no official announcements about the delivery of GLSDBs to Ukraine.

GLSDBs can destroy military targets far beyond the enemy lines, deep inside Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. A rocket engine first launches the GBU-39/B bomb to a high altitude, separates, opens its wings, and begins to glide toward the intended target, according to the Defense Express.

The GBU-39/B bomb itself weighs only 113 kg, but despite this, it can pierce more than 90 cm of reinforced concrete and then explode. There is also a contact and aerial detonation mode. In the basic version of the GBU-39/B, inertial and satellite navigation is responsible for targeting, with a declared deviation accuracy of up to 1 meter, the Defense Express reported.

In addition, there are options for equipping this bomb with a passive homing radar warhead that can attack radar or electronic warfare stations, according to the Defense Express. There is also a version with semi-active laser guidance. Finally, another variant of the GBU-53/B II bomb has a thermal imaging homing head.

It is currently unclear, which version of the GLSDB bomb Ukraine received, as the serial production of this weapon was launched specifically for Ukraine.

GLSDBs would enhance 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.

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 novel bomb.

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