Tag Archives: penetrator

Small Diameter Bomb – GBU-39


The GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb – the future of ultra-surgical air strikes.

Since the days of the first Gulf War, when it became clear to the world that precision air strikes would be the “go to” option for the opening rounds of nearly any theater scale military operations, the technology of precision guided munitions has increased rapidly.  We have witnessed bombs being guided into their targets by lasers, GPS, and even a human watching through a camera on the nose of the weapon.  Once the concept of precision guidance was no longer a novelty, the virtuous auspices of limiting collateral damage and economic efficiency have led military planners and weapons designers to push the envelope of precision weapon technology even further.

During the Desert Storm era, the smallest precision bombs available packed 500 lb high-explosive warheads, and the 500 pounder was typically used on only the smallest of targets.  They certainly were precise enough on surgical targeting, but the massive explosion and pressure wave still causes widespread devastation to buildings and well, people, that are in the vicinity of the blast.  Now I’m not saying that it’s ever goign to be possible to truly eliminate collateral damage, but I believe technology has reached a stopping point concerning precision-guided air-launched munitions.  It’s not as if limiting collateral damage is such a bad thing after all; so I guess we can go ahead and bestow the honorable hallmark characteristic of the next wave of precision munitions:  Efficiency…because accuracy is a given.

Fresh on the block is the new GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.  The GBU-39 is the first 250 lb class precision guided munition, and is not only intended to allow the pilot to strike more targets per sortie, but also to -you guessed it- limit collateral damage.  A full rack of GBU-39s, 4 bombs total, can easily take the place of one 2000 lb GBU 109 “bunker buster” guided bomb on typical strike platforms such as the F-15C or F-22 Raptor aircraft.  While the 2000 lb GBU-109 penetrator definitely retains its place as a select weapon of choice for large and hardended targets, the GBU-39 SDB surpasses the GBU-109 in many different realms of performance.  For starters, the GBU-39 also has significant stand-off capabilities.  With it’s guidance wings, the bomb can coast into targets from far greater ranges than the GBU-109, from more than 40 nautical miles out.  Likewise, the design of the warhead also allows the Small Diameter Bomb to achieve the same penetration capabilities of it’s much larger 2000 lb counterpart.  All in all, the SMB GBU-39 allows for a great amount of flexibility for whomever is designing strike missions for an urban environment.
[youtube VplddV722wo]

Not only does the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb limit it’s size to only 250 lbs, it also can be fitted with different types of warheads, one of which is specially designed to limit the blast radius and shockwave of the explosion.  This new explosive is called D.I.M.E., short for Dense Inert Metal Explosive.  DIME explosives basically combine a powder of inert metals–inert means that the metal is resistant to chemical reactions–into the explosive, which essentially weighs down the blast.  The explosive ignites, but the metal powder will only fly so far before air resistance and gravity will slow it down.  DIME explosives are proven to limit the blast radius of explosions, but they are also notorious for the effects that they can have on personnel.  Decapitations, dismemberments, and even cancer later down the line caused by the imbedded metal powder are all facts of life when DIME is deployed.  i guess the counter-point is that those folks were at the wrong place at the wrong time, especially under the known threat of air raids.

Fast forward to Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas regime in Gaza, and you’ve got the exact scenario where this weapon is intended to be used.  A crowded urban environment, where military targets are amorphous among the civilian landscape, and limiting collateral damage is essential to maintaining some semblance of self-restraint, saw small diameter bombs being deployed in large numbers.  Indeed, reports have come out of Gaza of people suffering the effects of DIME explosives, but the IDF remains deflective about admitting to their use.  The use of the GBU-39 that isn’t debated is the penetrator version being deployed against the smuggling tunnels at the Rafah crossing.  The IDF deployed multiple GBU-39 penetetrators along the lengths of the tunnels, essentially burying them in successive sections.
[youtube WE7SSHpHQFg]

AGM-86C Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile

Manufacturer: Boeing [NYSE: BA]

The conventional air-launched cruise missile (CALCM) is an affordable, long-range (standoff) missile that has been proven in combat by the U.S. Air Force. It is recognized for its rapid-response capability, and it is produced by converting surplus nuclear-armed AGM-86B missiles into the AGM-86C/D missile, which is the basis for CALCMs.

CALCM cruise missile

This particular Cruise Missile is launched by a B52 Bomber and propelled by a turbofan jet engine at approximately 500 MPH. The AGM-86C is very hard to detect with radar due to its small profile. The missile is Guided using a Global Positioning System and an Inertial Navigation System or (GPS) and (INS).

The missile Weighs approximately 3500 lbs and its payload consists of a blast-fragmentation warhead or Advanced Unitary Penetrator. One very unique feature of this advanced cruise missile is its ability to fly very low-altitude routes to a target by utilizing a terrain-contour-matching guidance system. This particular cruise missile is created by Boeing and has the following dimensions.
21′ long, 4′ diameter, 12′ wing span

CBU-105 – The Sensor-Fuzed Weapon – CBU-97 Cluster Bomb Video


Manufacturer: Textron Inc. [NYSE: TXT]

The CBU-97 sensor-fuzed weapon is an extremely potent anti-armor cluster bomb. It combines so many different technologies of lethality and has so many moving parts for a bomb that initial observes questioned whether it would even work. Basically, the CBU-97 is dropped over a column of enemy armor, the bomb “clusters” and releases it’s sub-munitions, which are like smaller little bombs themselves. Each sub-munition is slowed by a parachute, and then each sub-munition fires 4 hockey puck sized “skeets” over the target area. The skeets contain an infrared targeting system and a copper EFP (explosively formed penetrator, a type of shape charge). Once the skeet locks unto a vehicle it fires the EFP at the target, which essentially is a slug of molten copper that can deeply penetrate armor. One CBU-97 has the potential to destroy up to 40 armored vehicles. Please note that the CBU-97 is also referred to as the CBU-105.

See this Cluster Bomb Video

[youtube THZvZ6S4C14]