NEW SMART BOMB FOR FALLUJAH ASSAULT

041004-F-0000S-002.jpgJust in time for the assault on Fallujah: a new, satellite-guided bomb, especially designed for urban combat.U.S. forces are relying more and more on air strikes to fight the insurgents holed up in places like Fallujah. But the problem is, these bombs are too damn big. Even if they land precisely on target, the chances of innocent bystanders getting hit is pretty high.Our job is to destroy things if need be, Tech Sgt. Robert Franks tells Defense News. But why not use as little explosive as possible? If we dont have to destroy something, we dont want to.Enter the 500-pound GBU-38 -- half the size of what had been the smallest Joint Direct Attack Munition, or satellite-directed bomb. F-16s at Balad Air Base in Iraq are now being loaded up with the bombs. The U.S. Air Force "hopes within days" to begin using them, according to Defense News.Since the Bush re-election, there's been increasing chatter in the press about a major push by U.S. armed forces against Fallujah, the insurgent stronghold. These bombs would likely be among the weapons used in such a strike.

Aircraft from an undisclosed airbase elsewhere in the Middle East made the first combat use of the GBU-38 in early October. The Air Force said the bombs were used to destroy a meeting place of insurgents linked to Abu-Musab Zarqawi...Capt. Joe Sablatura, who commands the weapons flight here, said he and his troops have consulted those who worked on the other combat drop of the bombs, exchanging information on building and loading the weapons. He said he hopes to have approval to begin using the GBU-38 within days...The Air Force is developing an even smaller weapon, the 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb. Sablatura said that weapon will bring not only a more measured use of explosive power, but the ability to load more bombs on a fighter, expanding the number of targets that can be hit in a single sortie.
THERE'S MORE: "American commanders seem convinced that it is only a matter of time before the Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, gives the order for them to retake the city," the Times notes. "For many marines here, that order cannot come too soon. After a long summer of cat-and-mouse games with shadowy insurgents, they are hungry for a decisive battle."
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