$289.7M to Boeing, Raytheon for Small Diameter Bomb Phase II R&D
The Headquarters Air-To-Ground Munitions Systems Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, FL recently awarded two cost-plus fixed-fee R&D contracts under the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) Increment II, 42-month Risk Reduction Phase. The present generation SDB weapon has been surrounded by procurement controversies. SDB is designed to hit standing targets with GPS/INS accuracy and an outsize punch, given the small 250 pound size that allows aircraft and UAVs to carry far more weapons. Popular Mechanics notes that it’s part of a USAF drive to do more with less, a drive that includes “focused lethality munitions” as well as SDB.
The objective of the SDB II program is to take the idea one step further, and create a version that can hit mobile or movable targets in all weather. SDB weapons already have in-flight maneuverability thanks to their pop-out wings; the challenge will be to add the necessary sensors and controls to perform this job without compromising the bomb’s effectiveness or weight.
Weapons like Israel’s “Spice” bomb and recent JDAM tests indicate that this is very possible. So, what’s the plan?
The purpose of the Risk Reduction phase is to define and validate a system concept that meets the performance requirements outlined in the SDB II System Performance Specification. Successful tests with modified JDAM recently, and weapons like Israel’s Spice GPS/INS/EO “scene-matching” bombs, strongly indicate that success is possible. Solicitations began December 2005, negotiations were complete in March 2006, and work will be complete October 2009.
Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, MO received a $145.8 million contract (FA8681-06-C-0151). This is actually a Boeing/Lockheed venture as of October 2005; prime contractor Boeing will supply the weapon and data link system, while principal supplier Lockheed Martin provides the multi-mode seeker that lets it hit moving targets.
Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received its own $145.8 million contract (FA8681-06-C-0152).
The companies will be competing for selection in 42 months as the prime contractor for the SDB II program, which has a potential value of $1.3-1.7 billion. This is a second go-round for the SDB II competition, as a result of potential irregularities tied to the Darlene Druyun scandal. Phase II production was originally awarded to Boeing and Northrop-Grumman, but a protest from Lockheed resulted in a recompete. Boeing and Lockheed would later get together, leaving Northrop-Grumman out in the cold.