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Australia targets Small Diameter Bomb for F-35

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 11, 2016

The Australian government has requested the Small Diameter Bomb I. (US Air Force)
The Australian government has requested the Small Diameter Bomb I. (US Air Force)

The US Department of State has approved the possible sale of Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb I to Australia to support the acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II.

The estimated cost of the potential deal under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program is US$386 million, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated, and covers up to 2,950 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb I and up to 50 Guided Test Vehicles.

“This capability will strengthen combined operations and increase interoperability between the US Air Force and the RAAF,” the agency said.

Boeing is listed as being the principal contractor for production, but the principal contractor for integration is to be determined during contract negotiations.

The Small Diameter Bomb is an extended range, all weather, day or night 250 pound class guided munition that is capable of achieving standoff ranges in excess of 40nm.

Comments (8)

  • MP


    Does $130k per round seem excessive to anyone else?!

  • John N



    You can’t just do ‘simple’ maths when it comes to equipment purchases, it’s not as simple as dividing the project amount by the amount of equipment you are purchasing.

    You need to dig a little deeper (have a look at the DSCA website for the full details):


    As you will see there are two figures, $386m is the ‘overall’ package estimate, the actual estimate for the Major Defence Equipment (MDE), eg the SBD’s, is $172m.

    A lot of the expenditure of the total $386m will be ‘one off’ costs, just as in any project, anyway have a read of the details on the DSCA website and you will see exactly what I’m saying.

    If you were going to do simple maths on the $172m for the 3000 rounds of SBD’s (live and training), it then works out at a unit cost of approx. $57,300 per round (not the $130,000 per round you are suggesting).


    John N

  • Jason


    Read the whole release, it’s about half that

  • Raymond


    MP, it doesn’t appear that you have factored in the 50 Guided Test Vehicles as well as other associated costs for integration such as training, support, facilities etc. that are usually included and spread over a number of years.

    It’s not just a simple equation of dividing the total amount by the number of munitions acquired to arrive at the individual unit cost.

  • MikeofPerth


    The more advanced SDB 2 goes into service with the US next year. Are they just ordering SDB1s now because they expect to go through all 3000 of them relatively quickly with the current conflicts in the Middle East, then order the SDB2 to top up stocks when it is more mature and less costly?

    I wonder if we will ever see a 125lb bomb or smaller in the not too distant future with munitions become ever more smaller, accurate and effective.

  • Richard DC


    So much money which could be used on health and education….

  • Raymond


    Actually money well spent, Richard DC. Learn from history, or history has a habit of repeating itself. Or would you prefer Australia found itself in a perilous situation, under-equipped and ill-prepared, such as was the case at the beginning of the Second World War?

    Not saying health and education isn’t important, of course it is. However, it is a fact that defence is the first priority of any government and it should be funded as such. Neglecting defence, including insufficient funding, is very negligent and foolish. If the defence capability of a nation isn’t strong, when the proverbial hits the fan it doesn’t matter how much you’ve spent on health and education or anything else, we’re in deep trouble.

  • Nick


    Can’t have health and education without proper Defence is the counter argument Richard DC
    And MP, that isn’t expensive, they are very sophisticated and save lives worth millions if you put a dollar value on it

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