Long-range bombs can be launched by the M270 system, which the Ukrainians already haveLong-range bombs can be launched by the M270 system, which the Ukrainians already have

A long-range glide bomb supplied by Washington could make a difference on the battlefield, destroying Russian equipment some 150 kilometers away.

(DW) “GLSDB” is the name of the new weapon that promises to allow the Ukrainian Army to attack Russian armed systems and supply routes far behind the front line. The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb is a combination of the air-to-ground glide bomb (SDB), launched from aircraft and guided by GPS, and the M26t rockets, which have long been out of use.

According to Swedish manufacturer Saab, the latest version of the SDB can even hit moving targets. At 93 kilos, its very light warhead can penetrate reinforced concrete almost a meter thick. Saab and the American company Boeing had already tested SDBs in 2015 to allow them to be fired from the ground. The M26 engines also increase the range from 110 kilometers to around 150 kilometers.
Cheaper and immediately deployable

To launch a GLSDB can be used, among others, the M270 multiple rocket launchers and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars), which Ukraine already owns. “Therefore, Ukraine does not need to train more people and does not need to supply more such systems,” Mychajlo Samus, a Ukrainian expert at the Kiev Center for Army Studies, Conversion and Disarmament, told DW.

The GLSDB is also a relatively cheap projectile, according to Samus. “After all, nothing needs to be produced, only two parts – the engine and the bomb – need to be attached, and the guidance systems improved. The price of an SDB is around 40,000 dollars, and the M26 engines are in stock,” emphasizes Samus. In comparison, an ATACMS long-range missile costs around 1 million euros. According to Saab’s website, around 20,000 SDBs have been produced since 2006.

Himars are rocket launchers that can also be used for GLSDB glide bombs

First use in combat conditions

Ukraine will probably be the first country to use GLSDBs in combat conditions. US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland confirmed in Kiev at the end of January that they are already being supplied to the Ukrainian military on the front line. She said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have “good surprises” on the battlefield and that “Ukraine will achieve some great successes this year”.

Originally, the Ukrainian Armed Forces expected to receive the GLSDBs much earlier, after the US announced in February 2023 that it would make the shipments. The plan was for them to arrive in Ukraine before the end of 2023. “It’s not just a question of money, but also the time needed to create the capacity to produce these bombs,” explains Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center for Military and Political Power (CMPP) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank in Washington. “In addition, it was necessary to carry out tests, which were successful,” he told DW.

Weapons for attacks on enemy equipment

According to experts interviewed by DW, the GLSDBs will bring many advantages to Ukraine, as the missiles have twice the range of the systems currently in use. In the fall of 2023, the Ukrainian Army received the first ATACMS missiles with a range of up to 160 kilometers from the US. But, according to experts, it was only a small quantity.

“Other projectiles for multiple rocket launchers that Ukraine has can hit targets at around 80 kilometers,” emphasizes Mychajlo Samus. However, as the systems need to be placed at a great distance from the front line due to the threat posed by Russian drones, they can penetrate less into Russian-occupied areas. In this way, the GLSDBs could change the situation at the front in Ukraine’s favor, according to Samus. “We will cover northern Crimea, the Kherson region on the left bank of the Dnipro River, the entire Zaporijia region and all of Donbass.”

“With the help of GLSDBs, the Ukrainian Army could attack targets far behind the front line, making it more difficult for the Russians to supply their troops,” says Bradley Bowman.

“I assume the Ukrainians will be interested in hitting command and control points and logistics centers to make it harder for the troops to command and control.” According to Bowman, armored vehicles, tanks and other military equipment in grouping areas are also considered important targets.

Ukrainian military expert Petro Chernyk assumes that the Russians’ equipment will be the main target of the GLSDBs. “You have to look at the cost ratio. It’s better to hit expensive equipment, and there are many such targets: Tor-M2 and S-300 air defense systems, various armored vehicles, electronic warfare systems, some of which cost up to 200 million dollars,” he says in an interview with DW, stressing that Ukraine needs thousands of GLSDBs.

“The Russian Federation has 2,800 tanks on the battle line alone. There are about 7,000 armored vehicles, approximately 7,000 artillery pieces and hundreds of air defense systems,” says the military expert.

There is no information on how many GLSDBs Ukraine will receive. Petro Chernyk guesses that, for the time being, it will only be a few dozen. “That’s a small amount, anything up to 100 is enough, but it’s not much.” Chernyk estimates that in November alone the Russians dropped around 1,100 heavy guided bombs on Ukraine.

By admin