Israel was the first non-US customer for JDAM kits, which turn ordinary bombs into GPS-guided precision smart weapons. In August 2007, they submitted a request for thousands more JDAMs through official channels. They also build their own GPS-guided weapons, including the dual-guidance Spice bomb. Meanwhile, the USA has been working on a 250 pound integrated JDAM derivative known as the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. Its aerodynamics, penetration, and warhead design are crafted to punch into slightly hardened targets with the force of a weapon several times its size, while giving it greater glide range than its JDAM counterparts. When facing the right array of targets, from terrorist safe houses to a concrete nuclear reactor shell, the ability to carry 8 GBU-39s in place of 2 JDAM 2,000 pound bombs would halve a fighter’s weapon payload, extend its range, raise its number of potential targets/ impact points/ attempts, and lower collateral damage. It’s a potent combination.
On Sept 9/08, The US DSCA announced [PDF] Israel’s formal request for 1,000 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB1), 150 BRU-61/A SDB1 Mounting Carriages (4 GBU-39s each), 30 Guided Test Vehicles, 2 BRU-61/A SDB Instrumented Carriages for testing, 7 Jettison Test Vehicles, 1 Separation Test Vehicle, 2 Reliability and Assessment Vehicles, 12 Common Munitions BIT and Reprogramming Equipment with Test Equipment and Adapters, 3 SDB1 Weapons Simulators, and 2 Load Crew Trainers; plus containers, flight test integration, spare and repair parts, and other forms of support. The estimated cost is $77 million.
Boeing in St. Louis, MO would be the prime contractor. Implementation of this proposed sale will involve multiple trips to Israel by U.S. Government and contractor representatives for one-week intervals, for approximately 3 years.