Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb Positioned to Change the Game
How Saab and Boeing adapted long-range precision aircraft technology for ground unit armed forces requirements.
Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb I (SDB I) has proved a valuable weapon for U.S. Air Force wings since 2006. Now, a partnership between Saab and Boeing has adapted that precision technology into a cutting-edge ground-launched solution for land forces.
The Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) leverages a long history of missile technology development and expertise. The two firms jointly developed the GLSDB, which has been tested and refined since its first flight in 2015. This unique capability was initially developed without a program sponsor. Both companies saw the potential for such a system and internally funded its research and development for almost a decade.
"Boeing and Saab have quite complimentary teams, and the GLSDB was a fantastic opportunity to work together," says Jonathan Slater, senior director, Missile Systems, Saab, Inc.
The GLSDB is an example of the power that comes from leveraging cross-functional engineering teams with experience in air and land weapon technologies.
“Boeing and Saab have quite complimentary teams, and the GLSDB was a fantastic opportunity to work together. Using our different strengths, our team created an accurate, advanced weapon that can provide very real advantages to ground forces,”
To bring this system to life, the SDB-1 was adapted and evolved from an air-to-ground system to a ground-launched munition. Saab integrated the adapted SDB-1 into its Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) to create a complete, flexible system capable of hitting every target at its point of vulnerability. The result is a technology greater than the sum of its parts.
The GLSDB is a rocket artillery munition that provides land-based armed forces with precision warheads, offering a greater range than ever before. The GLSDB has a range of 150km or 93 miles, almost twice that of the current ground-launched precision munition systems. The GLSDB uses 360° surgical precision with ultra-low collateral damage from angles considered unreachable with conventional artillery.
In other words, the GLDSB can hit within the radius of a car tire from more than 150km, from any angle, with the power to penetrate reinforced bunkers and the flexibility to burst at height or detonate on impact.
Combining light weight with precision targeting makes this weapon suited to minimize collateral damage in urban or densely populated areas.
From a logistics perspective, the system can be integrated with existing MLRS launch pods, so that forces can leverage their existing weaponry systems without additional cost. The GLSDB itself is an affordable, cost-effective munition for combat forces compared to other guided weaponry systems.
The GLSDB provides:
- Multiple rockets to act against many targets, with near-simultaneous impact
- All-angle, all-aspect capability that cannot be reached by conventional direct-fire weapons
- Guided, stand-alone artillery with highly jamming-resistant GPS and navigation technology installed directly within the bomb
- All-weather, all-terrain capabilities, including terrain avoidance and cave-breaching capacity
- Ground units that can launch long-range munitions from hidden or protected positions
- Programmable to detonate either on impact or at a pre-determined height
- Moving target laser targeting and
- Focused lethality munition for low collateral damag
“This technology is a prime example of how Saab and Boeing brought together our strengths and complementary experience to build an accurate, advanced weapon. The GLDSB’s ability to strike at farther distances and its non-ballistic flight path render artillery hunting radars much less effective and counter-fires much more difficult. This keeps its users safer,” says Slater.
"The GLDSB’s ability to strike at farther distances and its non-ballistic flight path render artillery hunting radars much less effective and counter-fires much more difficult. This keeps its users safer,”
By extending the range of the forces on the ground, these weapons simultaneously provide greater protection to users and force opposing units to withdraw resources further from the front lines. As a result, the long-range precision of the GLSDB can also impede invading forces’ supply chain and resource management.
Because the GLSDB is an advancement of existing technology, it does not require a specialized launcher vehicle. For units familiar with MLRS launch pods, the GLSDB will require minimal additional training, so armed forces can quickly integrate the technology into their existing arsenal.