Dutch Looking for GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs
JDAM manufacturer Boeing’s GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb I is a 250 pound weapon with pop-out glide fins that greatly improve its range, and GPS/INS guidance. Its narrow body and streamlined shape help it punch above its weight against hardened targets, and its small size has the dual benefit of allowing more bombs per aircraft (4 per pylon), and lessening collateral damage beyond the target.
The Dutch have already ordered dual-mode GPS/laser guided Enhanced Paveway kits that fit 500 pound bombs, so the capability isn’t new. What would change are range, carrying profiles for the lighter weapons, and number of bombs available per fighter. The new GBU-39s would initially see use on the same Dutch F-16 fighters, which have received a Mid-Life Upgrade and are expected to get additional software modifications. If the Dutch hope to field the new weapons in 2012 as planned, however, they may have to overcome some political obstacles at home…
Contracts & Key Events
Aug 24/10: Dutch Defense ministry official Eimert van Middelkoop tells Aviation Week that the U.S. government must have a letter of agreement by Nov 1/10 for the Netherlands to be part of the FY 2011 SDB-I buy. The could be a challenge, as the political parties continue to try and form a stable government that can authorize such buys.
The Netherlands is reportedly budgeting around EUR 30 million ($39 million) for GBU-39 SDB-I procurement from 2010-13, with deliveries stretching into 2014. Fielding will be tied to the M6 software upgrade of the RNLAF’s F-16 MLU fighters. Operational trials are planned for mid-2012, with the weapon slated to be operational by the second half of 2012. The Dutch are currently deciding how to replace their F-16s, but either the F-35A or the JAS-39 Gripen will be able to use the GBU-39.
July 27/10: The US DSCA announces [PDF] The Netherlands official request to buy 603 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs1 (SDB1), plus bomb containers, flight test integration, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications and technical data, and U.S. Government and contractor support. If a contract gets signed, this will be the first sale of this weapon to The Netherlands. The estimated cost is up to $44 million.
RNLAF F-16s would carry this weapon, which is also in production for the American and Italian militaries. Boeing in St. Louis, MO is the prime contractor for the SDB-I; Raytheon won the separate GBU-53 SDB-II competition, which will add the ability to hit moving targets. This Dutch GBU-39 buy will involve multiple trips to The Netherlands by U.S. Government and contractor representatives for 1-2 week intervals for approximately 3 years.