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Small Diameter Bomb Provides Big Capabilities
TransFormation DoD ^ | Staff Sgt. Ryan Hansen

Posted on 03/24/2006 9:28:26 PM PST by SandRat

The bomb’s small size increases the number of weapons an aircraft can carry,
therefore raising the amount of targets it can kill in one sortie.

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Hansen / Air Armament Center Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., March 24, 2006 – There's an old saying that goes, "good things come in small packages."

That saying rings true for the warfighter when looking at the capabilities of the small diameter bomb, the Air Force's newest precision guided munition.

At just 5.9 feet long and 285 pounds, the bomb’s small size increases the number of weapons an aircraft can carry, therefore raising the amount of targets it can kill in one sortie.

Because of its size and precision accuracy, it also reduces collateral, or unintended, damage in the target vicinity.

"In the urban conflict we're currently engaged in, the warfighter struggles at times to find a weapon that gives them a desired effect on a target without an excessive effect, so the small diameter bomb will be a nice addition."

U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Justice

Complementing the weapon is a smart miniature munitions carriage system. This system can carry four small diameter bombs, enabling an aircraft to quadruple its load out.

The carriage system functions similar to an aircraft stores management system by communicating with and controlling up to four weapons.

A small diameter bomb can be used in adverse weather and has a standoff range of more than 60 nautical miles.

Once released, the weapon uses its inertial navigation and an anti-jam Global Positioning System to fly to the target.  Its guidance is further augmented by a differential GPS system, which provides corrections to enhance accuracy.

As the Air Force chief of staff's number one weapon priority, the small diameter bomb is the fastest major acquisition program in Eglin history. The weapon is scheduled to be in the hands of the warfighter for the first time in September 2006.

A weapon like the small diameter bomb is not created overnight. It was actually born as the small smart bomb through an advanced technology demonstration at Eglin's Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate.

There, a team of engineers wanted to demonstrate weapon technologies that increased aircraft loadout and allowed multiple targets to be attacked in a single combat sortie.

"This was done by focusing on the delivery accuracy, controllability and penetration capability of a 250-pound class weapon with approximately 50 pounds of explosive," said Ken Lockwood, director of the Small Diameter Bomb I Squadron, who was part of the demonstration team at the lab. "The success of the program emphasized the fact that accuracy and load out were sufficient to overcome the warhead size constraints."

The group also wanted to explore increased standoff capability of the weapon.

But they had to make sure they maintained the bomb's effectiveness and penetration capability while doing this.

"The objectives were to develop a low-cost wing kit that could extend the range of this weapon to greater than 40 nautical miles," Lockwood said. "At the conclusion of this program, increased load out, supersonic carriage and release, standoff, and weapon effectiveness had all been demonstrated."

Requirements set for the small smart bomb became small diameter bomb's foundation. The program was transitioned over to the Air Armament Center for further development and fielding.

Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force chief of staff at the time, liked the new small diameter bomb so much that he wanted it fielded and ready for the warfighter by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006.

From their request for proposal, the new small diameter bomb program office picked two contractors to design and test their prototype weapon system. They would then select one of them to produce the bomb after completing the component advanced development phase.

"Schedule was number one from the beginning," said Richard Walley, deputy director of the Miniature Munitions Systems Group. "Therefore, a lot of emphasis during the component advanced development phase was on design maturity so we could go right into a program with minimum changes."

The small diameter bomb team accelerated the acquisition process for the component advanced development phase by using a lot of the same concepts as the Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser program offices.

"The whole point of the competition was to have a higher probability of getting a weapons system that would perform to the requirements and have a price competition for the production options in out years," said Col. Richard Justice, commander of the Miniature Munitions Systems Group. "We used the competition very effectively; and if you look at the production pricing, we're buying it at less than half of the user's requirement."

During the next two years the program office carefully graded and evaluated the two contractor's different designs.

"The competition phase was essentially a fly off because both had weapons that flew," said Cynthia Schurr, director of engineering for Miniature Munitions Systems Group. "From there, we rolled down into one contactor and moved ahead."

Boeing was selected in 2003 to complete the system development and demonstration phase and produce the small diameter bomb.

During its developmental testing program, the small diameter bomb completed 35 out of 37 flight tests successfully. The program office attributed its success to having a good stable design early and keeping focused on the schedule.

See Caption.
A Small Diameter Bomb hits an A-7 parked inside a concrete aircraft shelter during a test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The bomb is an autonomous, 250-pound class weapon that can be used in adverse weather and has a standoff range of more than 60 nautical miles. Courtesy photos

"The success is really a product of two things," Justice said. "We didn't stretch too far technically, we didn't go out after something that was out of reach, and we hired a good contractor."

In 2005, 19 months after the weapon was awarded to Boeing, it was ready to enter operational testing.

But the weapon had some GPS issues during operational testing. With their eyes still focused on staying on schedule, the small diameter bomb program office pulled together an independent team to review the bomb and find a fix.

"Everyone realized the significance of the weapon and knew they had to find the problem," Justice said. "Our review team included other program offices, staff organizations and members from industry. Within a month-and-a-half, they had identified the highly probable root causes and provided suggested fixes."

Even though the weapon had suffered a setback, it never got off schedule and is now approximately halfway through operational testing.

"We've kept the budget stable, the requirements stable, the leadership stable and we picked the right contractor to do it. As an acquisition community, we're executing under budget and exceeding requirements," Justice said. "We can't have a bigger success in the acquisition world than that."

The weapon is scheduled to complete operational testing in May.

The small diameter bomb will first be integrated on the F-15E and is scheduled to have required assets available in September. This means warfighters will have the weapon in their arsenal and can use it.

"In the urban conflict we're currently engaged in, the warfighter struggles at times to find a weapon that gives them a desired effect on a target without an excessive effect," Justice said, "so the small diameter bomb will be a nice addition."

Up next for the weapon will be integration on the F-22A Raptor. As the Air Force continues to move forward with newer platforms, the small diameter bomb will be right there with them.

"The F-22A is going to be our day one weapon system in the future," Walley said. "Right now it can only carry two, 1,000 pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, but with small diameter bomb it will be able to carry eight. That's a four-fold increase and will improve the effectiveness of the aircraft in the early hours of a conflict."

Small diameter bomb workers continue to keep their eye on the schedule.

"The acquisition community at large is looking forward to getting small diameter bomb out there on schedule," Justice said. "This program can be viewed as a trial of the acquisition process. It kicked off in a period of tension in the (acquisition) community when we weren't meeting Air Force expectations. Eglin leadership responded by structuring a high confidence program and ensured stable requirements, leadership and funding. The result, small diameter bomb is on schedule, under budget and meeting requirements. It shows we know how to do business right."

While the warfighter is waiting to get the baseline small diameter bomb in the inventory, the program office is looking ahead to making the weapon even more valuable. Upgrades to the weapon include focused lethality munition, which would further reduce a small diameter bomb's collateral damage.

"We're replacing the steel casing, which has a fragmentation effect of 2,000 feet or more, with a composite casing and new explosive fill that will minimize that significantly," Walley said. "It basically provides a more localized kill mechanism."

Like the weapon itself, this new upgrade is also being pushed hard by Air Force leadership. However, this new warhead will not be a part of every small diameter bomb off the assembly line.

"We're not going to replace all the steel warheads with this new casing," Justice said. "It will just be a variant." The Air Force plans to purchase 24,000 small diameter bombs through 2017 at less than $30,000 a weapon. With the weapon on the verge of being handed over to the warfighter, it has set the bar high for other acquisition programs to follow.



TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: big; bomb; capabilities; diameter; provides; small

1 posted on 03/24/2006 9:28:30 PM PST by SandRat
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To: 2LT Radix jr; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; 80 Square Miles; A Ruckus of Dogs; acad1228; AirForceMom; ..

WOOOOOOOO-EEEEEEEEEEE! That's some blast!!


2 posted on 03/24/2006 9:29:04 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Sounds impressive, had no idea a 60 mile stand off range would be possible with a bomb.


3 posted on 03/24/2006 9:43:59 PM PST by jazusamo (Excuse me Helen, I'm answering your first accusation. - President Bush)
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To: SandRat

I can't remember when but I know someone posted a video of this test here on FR.


4 posted on 03/24/2006 9:45:17 PM PST by COEXERJ145 (Real Leaders Base Their Decisions on Their Convictions. Wannabes Base Decisions on the Latest Poll.)
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To: jazusamo

Looks like the wing kit makes a real difference on the glide path, from the picture it looks they pop out once the bomb is released.


5 posted on 03/24/2006 9:58:42 PM PST by TC Rider (The United States Constitution 1791. All Rights Reserved.)
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To: TC Rider

It looks like this could give a whole new meaning to air defense systems. Couple this system with stealth and it's a very nasty combination.


6 posted on 03/24/2006 10:03:41 PM PST by jazusamo (Excuse me Helen, I'm answering your first accusation. - President Bush)
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To: jazusamo; Thud

High altitude supersonic cruise combined with a winged glide bomb gives a really long stand off range.

The Russian SA-10/12 class air defense missiles complexes were just made obsolete.

The radars for these complexes are good, but if they cannot localize and target an American stealth aircraft at ranges less than this bomb can reach, they are dead the moment they radiate.


7 posted on 03/24/2006 10:54:49 PM PST by Dark Wing
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To: Dark Wing
That is fascinating. Are the SA 10/12 class the most advanced Russian missiles?
8 posted on 03/24/2006 11:06:55 PM PST by jazusamo (Excuse me Helen, I'm answering your first accusation. - President Bush)
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To: SandRat
Sweet. What a wonderful thing it is to be able to take out military assets from 60 miles away, undetected, and not harm a hair on the heads of the kids in the orphanage next door. I say this in all seriousness. Conflict and violence is never going to disappear, but over time it wll become more and more humane and precise. The US will lead this process for at least the next hundred years. We will bend the world to our will, and not have to kill great numbers of innocent civilians to do it.

-ccm

9 posted on 03/24/2006 11:18:00 PM PST by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order)
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To: jazusamo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SA-20
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/s-400.htm

Basically, double digit SAMs are bad news.

There are a number of different approaches to defeat an IADS (integrated air defense system). No one thing does it by itself. Jamming, low observable technology, decoys, stand off weapons, HARMs, and other things all role up into SEAD tactics.
10 posted on 03/25/2006 1:20:15 AM PST by Starwolf
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To: ccmay
We will bend the world to our will, and not have to kill great numbers of innocent civilians to do it.

Whole lotta folks need to be told to 'get bent' these days...

11 posted on 03/25/2006 1:33:49 AM PST by EternalVigilance (www.usbordersecurity.org)
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To: SandRat
I'm sure glad I'm on our side! Early AM bump.
'-)
12 posted on 03/25/2006 2:11:34 AM PST by Tunehead54 (Nothing funny here ;-)
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To: SandRat

BTTT


13 posted on 03/25/2006 3:06:08 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: Starwolf

Thanks, appreciate the links and the info.


14 posted on 03/25/2006 11:29:22 AM PST by jazusamo (Excuse me Helen, I'm answering your first accusation. - President Bush)
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To: ccmay

Can you imagine B-52s, B-1s or B-2s loaded to gills with these things, all releasing at once? Their biggest problem will be finding precise targets for that many bombs.


15 posted on 03/25/2006 1:22:28 PM PST by Buckhead
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To: Buckhead
Can you imagine B-52s, B-1s or B-2s loaded to gills with these things, all releasing at once? Their biggest problem will be finding precise targets for that many bombs.

I was thinking the same thing. A B-2 ought to be able to carry dozens of these things. The payload is 40,000 lbs, so that would be about 140 of these 285-lb bombs.

A B-52 can carry 70,000 pounds, or 245 bombs, and presumably there is a better chance of being able to physically stuff them in the bomb bay and close the doors than on the B-2.

With a hardened nose cone and delayed fuze, perhaps they could be used for bunker busting. Drop them sequentially, ten seconds apart, a hundred at a time on one site. I'm thinking they would be able to get through many feet of concrete or yards of dirt.

-ccm

PS It is an honor to be addressed by the famous giant-killer Buckhead. Your great-great-great grandchildren will brag to their friends about the ancestor who poked his thumb in the eye of the media Cyclops.

16 posted on 03/25/2006 11:24:09 PM PST by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order)
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