Nov. 1 (UPI) — The Boeing Company and MBDA Missile Systems announced on Tuesday a new contract that calls for 21,000 Diamond Back Wing assemblies for the U.S. Air Force’s precision-guided GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb Increment I or GBU-39 SDB-I
The announcement follows several contracts awarded to Boeing by the Air Force, including an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity foreign military sales contract worth $700 million back in Sept. 2016 for the production of GBU-39 SDB-I.
The SDB-I is ideal for American jet fighters when compared to the 2,000-pound Mark-84 general purpose bomb because a pilot can carry a pack of four SDBs in place of a single Mark-84.
Boeing’s SDB-I is a next-generation strike weapon that can be deployed from both internal and external carriage systems and comes with an Advanced Anti-Jam Global Positioning System-aided Inertial Navigation System that guides the weapon system towards the coordinates of a stationary target.
MBDA’s Diamond Back Wing Assembly is paramount in the design of Boeing’s SDB-I as the tandem wing design improves the maneuverability and extends its range to over 60 nautical miles, increasing pilot safety and expanding operational reach, they company says.
“This new award is possible thanks to our strong partnership with Boeing and outstanding past performance over many years of delivering wing kits,” MBDA Inc.’s CEO John Pranzatelli said in a press release. “As the MBDA Inc. Huntsville team scales up and expands our reach into the U.S. supply chain, we will continue to meet customer requirements on time and budget.
“In addition to Diamond Back, MBDA Inc. remains committed to introducing MBDA’s superior portfolio of precision guided munitions and advanced technology to the U.S.,” he added.
Boeing has a two-year $261 million contract deal with the U.S. Air Force for additional SDB-I’s that are expected to be produced by December 2018. About half of the ultimate contract value, roughly $129 million, has already been obligated by the Pentagon.
Two months ago, Raytheon was awarded a $450 million contract for engineering changes and development of the Small Diameter Bomb II, an update to Boeing’s SDB-I for the U.S. Air Force.
The SDB-II is capable of three modes — a millimeter wave radar that detects and tracks targets through all weather, imaging infrared for improved target discrimination, and a semi-active laser allowing it to track lasers in the air or on the ground.
The bomb can strike targets more than 45 miles away and has a small size, so more of them can be carried by fewer aircraft.
The SDB-II is being integrated for use on the F-35 and F/A-18E/F by the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and Raytheon is expected to have it prepared for integration with the F-15E by the end of the year.