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Air-Launched Weapons

Australian SDB II request for F-35As approved

03 October 2017

An Australian request to purchase Raytheon GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment IIs (SDB IIs) for its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters has been approved by the US State Department.

One of the F-35As two internal weapons bay seen loaded with its full complement of four SDB IIs during fitment tests. (Raytheon)One of the F-35As two internal weapons bay seen loaded with its full complement of four SDB IIs during fitment tests. (Raytheon)

The approval, which was announced by the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 2 October, covers 3,900 SDB IIs as well as test, training, and assorted anciliary equipment and services. The estimated cost is USD815 million.

“The proposed sale of SDB II supports and complements the ongoing sale of the F-35A to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). This capability will strengthen combined operations, particularly air-to-ground strike missions in all-weather conditions, and increase interoperability between the United States and the RAAF,” the DSCA notification said.

The proposed sale must now be approved by Congress before it can be signed off.

Approval for SDB II comes 18 months after the RAAF was cleared to purchase Boeing GBU-39 SDB Is for its F-35As. The sale of up to 2,950 SDB Is for USD172 million (the total deal including test, training, and other services was USD386 million) was approved in April 2016.

The SDB I utilises an Advanced Anti-Jam Global Positioning System-aided Inertial Navigation System (AJGPS/INS) to provide guidance to the co-ordinates of a stationary target from a range of more than 60 n miles. The payload is a 93 kg (206 lb) multipurpose penetrating and blast-and-fragmentation warhead coupled with a cockpit selectable electronic fuse.

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