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Thread: Boeing and Saab Unveil Ground Launched SDB

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Boeing and Saab Unveil Ground Launched SDB

    Boeing and Saab have teamed up to develop a Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) program, with three successful test launches of the new system completed last month.

    The three tests, conducted at a range in Sweden, proved that the Boeing and Saab design could successfully launch a SDB weapon from the ground, sync up with GPS and guide the weapon to its target, opening up what Beth Kluba, vice president for Boeing Weapons and Missile Systems, called "all-angle, all-aspect attack."

    The system essentially sticks a GBU-39B small diameter bomb, widely used by the US military and a number of international customers, on the front of a M26 rocket. The M26 is set to be demilitarized by 2018 under a set of cluster munitions treaties, meaning the GLSDB program would essentially be recycling an item that countries were planning to stockpile or scrap.

    The weapon is designed to be launched out of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), used by a number of US allies already, avoiding the need to design a new launch system. That MLRS can hold six weapons per pod, with two pods per vehicle.

    Executives from the two companies are positioning the system as a low-cost product that meets a requirement gap by combining off-the-shelf products.

    "These are technologies that are already in use," Kluba said. "It's off-the-shelf technology. That really drives the risk down for this new capability."

    Once launched, the SDB acts as any air-launched SDB would, which means ground-based commanders now have 360-degree coverage. The weapon can do both high and low angles of attack, fly around terrain to hit targets on the back of mountains, or circle back around to attack a target behind the launch vehicle.

    Range-wise, the GLSDB can hit targets 150 kilometers in front of the launcher or 70 kilometers behind it.

    While declining to put a price range for the system, Kluba said it will be "very affordable" and comparable in price to anything the MLRS currently uses. She also predicted an 18- to 24-month delivery time from when a contract is signed to when the system would be fielded.

    "This is not developmental, it's not PowerPoint," she said. "It' hardware, it exists, and through our investment we're able to bring this capability to the war fighter very quickly."

    That investment she mentions is all internal R&D spending, something split between the two companies.

    According to Kluba and Saab North America President Michael Andersson, there are ongoing discussions with a number of customers, including several who were present for the weapon tests in February. While Kluba confirmed the US Army is looking at the system, she declined to identify other customers.

    Boeing actually began development of the GLSDB system in 2011, but dramatically sped up the process once Saab signed on as a partner in August.

    Both executives also declined to go into details of how the investment has been split between the two companies. However, it is clear that a big part of Saab's role will be to help sell the system to nations overseas, something in line with previous Boeing teaming efforts.

    "From Boeing's point of view, this was something we wanted to do and we were moving towards that goal," Kluba said. "As we conducted out various reviews, we saw an opportunity, because we have a relationship in place with Saab, and as we were looking at the market and how to be most successful in penetrating the global market, we saw an opportunity."

    "We view ourselves as equal partners," Andersson said. "We're bringing different skills and capabilities to the program, and that ranges from engineering production, testing and also marketing."

    Andersson added that there are 10 potential initial customers identified by the companies, adding that this is a program that could exist even if the US does not buy in.

    "Looking at the international coalition partners, this is a very important capability," he said. "In the US context it may be more complimentary. Here it is a unique capability that they haven't had access too, and that's really important in terms of looking at the broader market."
    Boeing, Saab Unveil Ground Launched SDB


    This sounds like it would turn MLRS and HIMARS into extremely accurate artillery that can hit targets on the reverse slope of hills and even mobile targets with SDB II using perfectly good rockets that would have otherwise been scrapped.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 13 Mar 15, at 19:17.

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    The SDB-II costs around 240,000 USD per unit - without the rocket and the integration work.
    An M31 GMLRS rocket with unitary warhead costs 110,000 USD per unit.

    If you want laser guidance it would be a lot cheaper to have MBDA (or a US company) develop its proposed laser seeker for the M31...

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    Wow i was just thinking the other day with the tri mode seeker of SDB 2. A rocket launched version could work as an assault breaker system.

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    We're entering a new age for precision guided weapons, where you have a marriage of the precision guidance with low cost low weight and small form factor to massively increase the volume of precision fire power in future conflicts. Think of SDB I and II, APKWS, and now GL-SDBs. This is a quantum leap beyond JDAMs, which delivered the first affordable high volume use precision weapons.

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    Senior Contributor Versus's Avatar
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    Bwah, Bosnian Serbs used it waay back, minus fancy electronics and seeker

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xckkq2qkgw

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    This is a gliding bomb versus. It doesn't just fall, it glides for 40 miles and can maneuver to hit targets on the opposite side of mountains. Wee bit difference there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    This is a gliding bomb versus. It doesn't just fall, it glides for 40 miles and can maneuver to hit targets on the opposite side of mountains. Wee bit difference there.
    Yep, agreed.

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    While our NATO Allies may buy into this the US Military never will.

    There would be way to much infighting between the Air Force and the Army.

    Trying to establish Fire Support Zones/Deconflict air space would be a planners nightmare with this thing.
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

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    Isn't this just a better version of the guided mlrs though? And if our allies get it, we are still in for all the headaches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    The SDB-II costs around 240,000 USD per unit - without the rocket and the integration work.
    An M31 GMLRS rocket with unitary warhead costs 110,000 USD per unit.

    If you want laser guidance it would be a lot cheaper to have MBDA (or a US company) develop its proposed laser seeker for the M31...
    SDB was designed from ground up as a penetration weapon. MLRS rocket, on the contrary, was originally a cluster weapon.

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