DN - Defence Notes

SDB increases capability of RAAF F-35A

21st August 2019 - 09:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The capability of the Royal Australian Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighters has quadrupled since the introduction of the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB), according to the government. 

Introduced into No 3 Sqn in June 2019, the SDB Increment 1 (SDB1) weapon is a 16kg weapon guided by GPS-aided inertial navigation, utilising so-called ‘diamondback’ wings that deploy after release to provide greater stand-off range, and four bombs are fitted to new bomb release unit racks before loading on the aircraft. 

‘We’ve got a next-generation bomb to go with our fifth-generation fighter,’ Wg Cdr Simon Bird, chief engineer at the Aerospace Explosive Ordnance Systems Program Office (AEOSPO) – Explosive Materiel Branch, said on 16 August. 

‘Where you used to carry one JDAM [joint direct attack munition] in a position on the aircraft, SDB1 allows you to carry four bombs that each achieve very similar effects. Although at 285lbs the SDB1 is lighter than a 500lb JDAM, it’s highly accurate and packs a more powerful, modern explosive. 

‘SDB1 is also designed to penetrate harder targets, or can fuse above ground to create area effects.’

Some 15 armament technicians from No 3 Sqn received familiarisation training on the bombs ahead of planned test firings due to take place in the coming months. 

AEOSPO’s engineering, logistic and technical staff ensured introduction of the weapons and their delivery, which is a milestone towards the F-35A’s initial operational capability in 2020. 

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