The US military is considering providing Ukraine with small, inexpensive precision bombs mounted on rockets that could allow Ukrainian forces to carry out attacks behind Russian lines, Reuters news agency reported on Monday.
The system in question, manufactured by Boeing, is called Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB, or small diameter bomb launched from the ground) and would allow Kiev to reach distant targets up to 150 kilometers, almost twice the range of the Himars rockets that the The US has already been supplying the Ukrainians.
According to Reuters, the GLSDB could be delivered in early 2023, and combines a GBU-39 small diameter bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket engine, both common in US stockpiles.
While the United States has rejected requests from Kiev to supply the ATACMS missile with a range of 297 km, the GLSDB’s 150 km range would be enough to allow Ukraine to hit military targets that remain out of range for the moment.
The proposal has come under consideration at a time when Ukraine’s western allies are facing logistical difficulties in meeting Kiev’s demand for more weapons. At the moment, US and European allies’ stockpiles of weapons are at an all-time low. The US, for example, has already sent 25% of its arsenal of Stingers anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.
Doug Bush, head of the U.S. Army’s weapons procurement, told reporters last week that the U.S. is still seeking to ramp up production of 155mm artillery shells – currently manufactured only at government facilities – allowing defense contractors to build them too.
The invasion of Ukraine has increased demand for US-made weapons and munitions, while US allies in Eastern Europe are “placing a lot of orders” for a variety of weapons as they supply Ukraine with material, Bush added.
“It’s about getting quantity cheaply,” said Tom Karako, a weapons and security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said the drop in US stockpiles helps explain the rush to get more weapons now and that stockpiles are “getting low relative to the levels we like to keep on hand and certainly the levels we’ll need to stop a conflict with China.” “.
Although several GLSDB units have already been produced, there are many logistical obstacles to Ukraine’s formal acquisition of the system. Boeing’s proposal still requires in-depth analysis to ensure the Pentagon is getting the best possible value for money. Any deal would also require at least six suppliers to expedite shipping their parts and services to produce the weapon quickly.