Haaretz
 
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. 
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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 
individual bomb. 
 
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 
land forces.