The Pentagon is poised to begin equipping Ukraine with a long-range precision bomb that’s so new it hasn’t even hit the American arsenal yet, Politico reports. The first shipment could arrive as early as Wednesday.
The precision-guided Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), a joint project of Boeing and Saab, comprises a 250-pound explosive that’s attached to a rocket motor and fired from ground launchers. From a range of about 90 miles, it’s supposedly accurate within a meter. The US military has an air-launched version, but not this new ground-launched one, six of which were fired in a final, pre-ship test conducted at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base on Jan. 16, according to a Reuters source.
The weapon has one feature that’s particularly attractive: since it’s already “paid for,” the Pentagon can ship it to Ukraine without waiting for additional Ukraine war-funding legislation that’s been held up in Congress for months. That’s especially important at a time when Ukraine’s stockpile of 100-mile Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is running low. The US has put off requests to supply ATACMS to Ukraine — partly out of concern that doing so would be seen as a Western escalation — only to later supply them anyway, with the missiles making their debut in October.
Politico reports that Ukraine will receive its first GLSDB surface-to-surface missiles from the U.S. tomorrow.
The my are very accurate and have a range of 160 km, making it possible for Ukraine to strike far behind Russian lines
Video of how they work pic.twitter.com/NeLvtHptdo
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) January 30, 2024
Shipping the GLSDB into the Ukraine war could pay dividends for Boeing and Saab in other ways — it’s an opportunity to showcase the new weapon in a hot war. Last year, Boeing pitched the Pentagon on an “expedited nine-month option” for delivering the new weapon — which means allowing an exception to standard scrutiny that’s intended to ensure taxpayers are getting a reasonably good deal. The Pentagon, of course, was all too happy to issue such a waiver.
More long-range weapons in the Ukraine arsenal could pressure the Russian army to extend its supply lines, by forcing caches to be moved farther back from the front lines for a measure of relative safety. “It’s long past time to finding creative means to provide the capability and capacity needed to strike deep and often behind Russian lines,” Tom Karako of the interventionist, military-contractor-financed Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Reuters.