The Pentagon is considering Boeing’s proposal to supply Ukraine with low-cost, small, precision-guided GLSDB bombs that would allow the Ukrainian military to strike deeper into Russia’s rear, as the West struggles to meet the demand for new weapons, reports Reuters.
U.S. and allied military inventories are shrinking, and Ukraine faces an increasing need for more sophisticated weapons as the war drags on. Boeing’s proposed system, dubbed Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), is one of about a half-dozen plans for getting new munitions into production for Ukraine and America’s Eastern European allies, industry sources said.
GLSDB could be delivered as early as spring 2023, according to a document seen by Reuters and three people familiar with the plan. It combines the GBU-39 small diameter bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket motor, both of which are common in the US stockpile.
Doug Bush, the U.S. Army’s chief weapons buyer, told reporters at the Pentagon last week the Army was also looking at accelerating production of 155 millimeter artillery shells – currently only manufactured at government facilities – by allowing defense contractors to build them.
Although several GLSDB units have already been produced, there are many logistical obstacles to formal procurement. Boeing’s plan calls for a price waiver that exempts the contractor from an in-depth review that guarantees the Pentagon the best possible offer. Any deal would also require at least six suppliers to speed up their supply of parts and services for rapid weapons production.
A Boeing representative declined to comment. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman declined to comment on providing any “specific capability” to Ukraine, but said the U.S. and its allies “identify and consider the most appropriate systems” that would help Kyiv.
Although the United States rejected a request for the ATACMS missile with a range of 297 km, the GLSDB’s range of 150 km will allow Ukraine to hit valuable military targets that were previously out of reach and help it continue to conduct counterattacks, destroying Russian rear areas.
The GLSDB is jointly produced by SAAB AB ( SAABb.ST ) and Boeing Co ( BA.N ) and has been in development since 2019, long before the Russian invasion.
According to the document – a proposal from Boeing to the US European Command (EUCOM), which oversees weapons destined for Ukraine – the main components of the GLSDB will come from current US warehouses.
The M26 rocket motor is relatively abundant, and the GBU-39 costs about $40,000 a piece, making the finished GLSDB inexpensive and its main components readily available. Although arms manufacturers struggle with demand, these factors make it possible to produce weapons by early 2023, albeit at a low production rate.