Last update - 02:18 14/09/2008
U.S. to sell Israel Air Force new bunker-buster bombs
By Aluf Benn and Amos Harel
Tags: Iran, United States
Despite reservations in Washington regarding a possible
Israeli strike on Iran, the American administration will
supply Israel with sophisticated weapons for heavily
fortified targets, the U.S. administration announced.
The U.S. Department of Defense announced it would sell the
Israel Air Force 1,000 new smart bombs, rumored to
significantly enhance the IAF's military capabilities. The
deal was approved amid public and secret messages from
Washington, with the Americans expressing their
reservations about a possible Israeli strike against the
Islamic Republic's suspected nuclear sites.
The Pentagon's announcement, which came on Friday, said
the U.S. will provide Israel with 1,000 units of Guided
Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39) - a special weapon developed for
penetrating fortified facilities located deep underground.
The $77 million shipment, which includes launchers and
appurtenances, will allow the IAF to hit many more bunkers
than currently possible. Although each bomb weighs 113
kilograms, its penetration capabilities equal those of a
one ton bomb, according to professional literature.
Most U.S. Air Force aircraft are able to carry a pack of
four of these bombs in place of a single one-ton bomb. The
bomb's small size allows a single-strike aircraft to carry
more of the munitions than is possible utilizing currently
available bomb units, thus increasing firepower, or,
alternatively, allowing the aircraft to fly longer
distances to deliver a single bomb.
During demonstrations, the GBU-39 - labeled by the
manufacturer, Boeing, as a Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) - has
successfully penetrated more than 1.8 meters of thick
reinforced concrete with a 23-kilogram warhead. The GPS-
guided weapon is said to have a 50-percent probability of
hitting its intended target within 5-8 meters, which
should minimize collateral damage.
The estimated value for the bomb's GPS version, which
military experts have called the latest development in the
bunker-buster line, is around $70,000 to $90,000 for each
The U.S. has already supplied Israel with earlier versions
of bunker busters. In 2005, the Pentagon authorized the
sale of GBU-28 to Israel, in a move that commentators
construed as a hinted threat aimed at Iran. Haaretz
reported earlier this month that the U.S. was hesitant
about selling Israel heavier busters.
The Pentagon's announcement also said that the U.S. would
help upgrade the Israel Defense Forces' patriot anti-
aircraft missiles - which Israel uses as part of its
missile-interception array. Israel will also receive
28,000 LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon) tube launchers for