TechUkraine receives GLSDB missiles: unprecedented Pentagon transfer boosts fighting potential

Ukraine receives GLSDB missiles: unprecedented Pentagon transfer boosts fighting potential

GBU-39 SDB Glide Bomb
GBU-39 SDB Glide Bomb
Images source: © Lockheed Martin
4:13 AM EST, January 31, 2024

Speculation about the transfer of GLSDB missiles to Ukraine began in early 2023. Although sources close to Ukrainian authorities claimed to have these weapons in their possession, a credible confirmation eluded the public for several months, and the issue remained shrouded in rumors.

As per the Politico editorial team, it is now confirmed that Ukraine is set to receive a shipment of GLSDB missiles officially on January 31. The U.S. authorities believe this weapon will drastically boost Ukraine's fighting potential and its ability to attack remote targets.

Understanding GLSDB Missiles and Their Functions

The GLSDB (Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb) is essentially an airborne bomb attached with additional aerodynamic surfaces and a rocket engine to enable ground-based launches. The GLSDB essentially serves as an upgrade kit that transforms an airborne bomb into a guided missile that can be launched from the ground with an approximate range of 93 miles.

Related: Is this NATO or Russian equipment?

This innovative weapon is the brainchild of Boeing and Saab, who began its development in the early 2010s. Testing commenced in 2015 and, despite its success, it hasn't yet been included in the weaponry of any military unit, not even the U.S. military. It appears that Ukraine will be the first country to operationally utilize the GLSDB system.

A major advantage of the GLSDB is its cost-effectiveness. As an assembly kit made from readily available parts, it meshes a 551-pound GBU-39 SDB glide bomb with a propulsion system derived from a 500lb GMLRS rocket missile used in HIMARS/MLRS launchers.

This hybrid missile, with a length of 12.8 feet and a weight of 617 pounds, features rhomboid wings with a wingspan of 5.2 feet that unfold during flight. The GLSDB carries a 205-pound warhead, over 35 pounds of which consist of an explosive charge. The missile utilizes satellite and inertial navigation for targeting, though a laser beam guided warhead solution has been tested as well.

The GLSDB's range when launched from the ground is approximately 93 miles, almost double that of GMLRS missiles. It can be launched from both HIMARS/MLRS launchers and a dedicated ground launcher, offering flexibility in terms of its range, explosive power, and ease of transportation and concealment.

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