US Air Force Nears SDB Integration on F-16s


This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Boeing is hoping to boost sales of its Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the forthcoming milestone of integration of the 250-lb. glide bomb on the F-16.

The U.S. Air Force first integrated SDB onto the F-15E, and Boeing has since landed foreign military sales customers in Israel, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. A fifth customer, likely South Korea, is buying through a direct commercial sale, though Boeing declines to identify it.

An initial fielding recommendation for the F-16 and SDB is expected by the end of next month, according to officials at the Air Armament Center at Eglin AFB, Fla. This will take place as part of the M6.1+ operational flight profile release for the F-16 software. Air Force officials were unable by press time to say when initial operational capability with limited use of the SDB on specific hard points on the F-16 will be ready, or when full operational capability is expected.

The interim capability will allow for use on the F-16 Block 30/40/50 series, according to Kristin Robertson, SDB manager for Boeing.

Debbie Rub, vice president of Boeing’s missile and unmanned systems business, says that a full operational capability could be ready as soon as 2015 for domestic and international customers.

The Air Force’s buys of the baseline SDB end this year. The last of 12,300 SDBs and 2,000 BRU-61 carriage systems is slated for Lot 7.

Meanwhile, the company has delivered 600 SDBs and 50 BRU-61s to Israel, and the country signed a letter of request for an additional 400 bombs and 24 carriage units. Integration onto Israeli F-16s is expected to begin next year, according to weapons officials at Eglin.

The Netherlands expects delivery of its 595 SDBs and 24 carriage units by July 2013, including integration onto its F-16s.

Sweden is slated to take delivery of its order of 53 SDBs for integration onto the Gripen fighter in December 2013. Norway will be the last current foreign military sales customer to take delivery -- 150 SDBs and 14 carriage units -- in 2014. Norway also will employ the weapon on the F-16.

Air Force officials say the average unit cost of the SDB through its seven lots of purchases is $22,675. Including the purchase of BRU-61s, the cost is $55,000.

Meanwhile, the company hopes to continue production at its St. Charles, Mo., facility by diversifying the SDB’s capabilities, including the Laser-Guided SDB U.S. Special Operations Command is buying for use on its AC-130W gunships. And, Boeing continues to offer the Focused Lethality Munition (FLM), an SDB with a dense explosive fill and composite casing designed to counter personnel without infrastructure damage.

The U.S. Air Force purchased 500 FLMs, with final deliveries expected by the end of next year.

Credit: U.S. Air Force

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