Small Diameter Bomb Enters Service


Strategy Page reports on the first use of the SDB in combat, and explains what makes it unique.

As aircraft like the F-22 and F-35 enter service, which carry weapons in internal weapon bays of limited volume, weapons like the SDB will become increasingly useful. The price is a little concerning, given the number which are likely to be employed due to the small warhead size. Then again the aircraft that will be carrying them aren’t exactly cheap either. The utility of being able to carry many more bombs and missiles inside the jet will be a compelling reason to produce many of them.

I can’t help but wonder if a rocket-powered version with a reduced warhead will be developed later. It would have a longer stand-off range than the unpowered version—somewhat equivalent to an AGM-65 Maverick but physically much smaller and with a different guidance method (GPS rather than TV/IR).

Finally, here is a rather nice, high-resolution video of an SDB being tested in its ability to penetrate concrete structures.

— posted by Nicholas.


  1. Yeah, this is just the bomb the USAF needs when it’s top line fighter only has the capacity to hold 2000 lbs of ordance. What a pitiful amount of punch it has when you compare it to the recently retired F-14 that at a similar size and weight could carry much more much farther. But that’s progress for you, or rather it isn’t. At least it fits in with the new Air Force motto: Sure we could buy better, but we just can’t pay more. I was happy to see that this bomb did little collateral damage when it hit that phoney target. I mean hell, when you pay $200M for a jet, you don’t want it to actually destroy stuff. If we dropped a big bomb on one of the crap holes we are currently engaged in, we might have to charge the residents for the improvements. I guess we can’t expect any better from a program that started with Boeing buying the award from Darlene Druyun. Just one more example of the US taxpayer taking up the butt.

  2. Although I agree with some of your points, there is one aspect that I believe you may have overlooked. It’s small blast radius means not only less collateral damage, as you pointed out, but it also means that we can hit targets much closer to US or allied troop positions that are in need of support.

  3. That’s a good point, however the cynic in me thinks hand grenades would do the job just as well for a whole lot less.