US approves large RAAF SDB II buy

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced the approval of a possible US$815m (A$1.04bn) Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II) weapons for the RAAF.

The sale comprises 3,900 SBD IIs, 30 guided test vehicles, 60 captive carry reliability trainers, as well as auxiliary equipment including Weapon Load Crew Trainers (WLCT), Practical Explosive Ordinance Disposal Trainers (PEST), containers, and support and ground crew test equipment.

The weapons will be employed on the RAAF’s F-35A Lightning II fighters, two of which are currently flying with the multi-national training unit at Luke AFB in Arizona, and which is expected to achieve initial operational capability with the RAAF in 2020/21.

“The proposed sale of SDB II supports and complements the ongoing sale of the F-35A to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF),” the DSCA statement reads.

“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. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.”

The sale is still subject to a final decision by the Australian Government.


  1. Allen Hamilton says

    Hopefully this does not come at the expense of any JDAM-ER buy as we spent decades and millions to finally get it into production and service.

  2. Jasonp says

    Allen – “…we spent decades and millions getting (JASSM-ER) into service…”? Huh???

    We don’t have JASSM-ER in Australia. We have JASSM on the classic Hornet, but this wasn’t a baseline weapon and had the additional problems of putting an Air Force missile onto a Navy aircraft. JASSM-ER hasn’t been ordered here.

    SDB is a 800km+…there is no overlap in capability, requirement of budget!

  3. Jasonp says

    Last line should read…

    SDB is a less than 50km range 250lb class weapon, JASSM-ER is an 800km+ class cruise missile, there is no overlap in capability, requirement or budget.

  4. Corey says

    There is a difference between a JASSM-ER and a JDAM-ER. A JASSM-ER is a CRUISE MISSILE and the JDAM-ER is a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs, or “dumb bombs”, into all-weather “smart” munitions. The JDAMs are 500lbs (225kg), 1,000lbs (450kg) and 2,000lbs (900kg) BOMBS!. The JDAM-ER is an improved version of the guidance kit which triples the range of the bomb. The U.S. Air Force and Boeing originally upgraded the JDAM to incorporate a laser seeker commonly known as the LJDAM. In 2006 to 2013 Boeing and the RAAF worked to upgraded the JDAM to extend the range of the bomb. They ended up being able to triple the distance to 80km. This effectively allows the bombs to say be released over Brisbane and it would hit targets on the Gold or Sunshine Coasts or be dropped from the Sydney Airport and hit targets around Norah Heads/Tuggerah Lake or Albion Park areas. The SDB ii/GBU-53 is a much much smaller bomb with a range of 110km and 204lbs (93kg) in size. No overlap at all and will provide greater flexibility to the RAAF.

  5. John N says


    Allen said JDAM-ER not JASSM-ER, there is a difference, a big difference.

    Two totally different weapons.


    John N

  6. Allen Hamilton says

    I guess all that above more or less proves how unknown the JDAM-ER is.
    I was overjoyed seeing an model of it in the exhibition tent at Avalon 2015 after reading about over the last 5 years..

  7. Jasonp says

    Sorry – serves me right for reading it on a small screen in a moving vehicle without my glasses. But SDB and the larger JDAMs are still different use weapons.

  8. Josh James says

    Would love to see them on the Rhinos (FA-18F ) as well. They’ve perforned very well on the F-15E. Is there any chance of them becoming operational on either the MQ-9 Reaper or even the P-8 Posidon? Such precise weapons in good numbers on a platform with long loiter and large payload capacity sounds like CAS gold to me

  9. Doug Bell says

    Privatise and sell the whole ADF or RAAF to the Pentagon and get this stuff paid by Washington, who already tell us where and when and wait for the next buy order..
    Try a yes no postal vote on transferring that for our defence without an enemy ( Australian ) a overplayed game we play.

  10. says

    Hi guys, off the topic sorry but I just read that Canada will buy our hornets. Does this mean the Rhino deal is off? Cheers.

  11. Jasonp says

    There was an article about the Canada deal here somewhere a few weeks ago. I think they’ve only submitted a letter of request, no commitment yet.

  12. John N says


    Yes it is off topic, but…. Canada is interested in our soon to be parked Classic Hornets.

    Canada and the US (via a Boeing complaint) are in a trade war over alleged Government subsidies to the Bombardier C Series aircraft, the US is going to impose a ‘tariff’ (anti dumping tariff) of more than 200% to the sale price for any US airline that procures C series.

    The end result is that the Canadian Government has put the proposed purchase of 18 ‘interim’ Super Hornets on hold unless Boeing withdraws its complaint, which Boeing wont, and therefore the Super Hornet deal is pretty much dead.

    The ‘real’ problem is that successive Canadian Governments haven’t had the balls to commit to a permanent replacement for their Classic Hornet fleet, successive Governments pass the buck to the next Government to be ‘liable’ for making the final decision (people need to understand that ‘defence’ does not have the overall ‘bipartisan’ support that it does in Australia, each Canadian Government plays politics against the other when it comes to defence procurement).

    The current left wing Canadian Government said before it was elected with wouldn’t procure F-35, now it won’t procure Super Hornets, it has painted itself into a corner, the only solution is to squeeze a few more years out of their Classic Hornet Fleet (77 left of 138) with a top up of our ‘used’ Classic Hornets.

    The funny thing might be (a long shot I know), but I would love of the US not approve the transfer/sale of some of the RAAF Classic Hornet fleet to Canada (which it has the right to), that would set the cat amongst the pigeons!!!


    John N

  13. says

    Jason’s, yep I saw that, but I think the Canadians will go ahead with it. Rhino deal is off, and the F-35 will be selected.