The United States is considering transferring new longer-range rockets to Ukraine which are capable of striking targets 100 miles away, despite the Biden White House previously shutting the door on the possibility, citing worries that long-range systems could strike inside Russian territory, potentially bringing Moscow and Washington into direct confrontation.
But those legitimate worries over stumbling into WW3 are apparently quickly going by the wayside, as Reuters reports this week that Boeing is getting involved by proposing its Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) for the Ukrainians, which could be delivered as early as spring 2023.
Time is indeed of the essence from NATO’s point of view, given rapidly depleting stockpiles in the militaries of the West, which the Pentagon has also of late expressed alarm over.
The GLSDB is seen as versatile and capable of being quickly delivered to the battlefield given it combines small-diameter bombs with a key rocket technology said to be widely available among Pentagon inventories – the M26 rocket motor.
Boeing says it can easily manufacture many of these small precision-guided bombs cable of fitting into a variety of common rocket systems. Neither Boeing nor the Pentagon have yet to officially confirm, but Reuters details:
Although the United States has rebuffed requests for the 185-mile (297km) range ATACMS missile, the GLSDB’s 94-mile (150km) range would allow Ukraine to hit valuable military targets that have been out of reach and help it continue pressing its counterattacks by disrupting Russian rear areas.
GLSDB is made jointly by SAAB AB and Boeing Co and has been in development since 2019, well before the invasion, which Russia calls a “special operation”. In October, SAAB chief executive Micael Johansson said of the GLSDB: “We are imminently shortly expecting contracts on that.”
Crucially, the main appeal and priority is beginning to rest on availability… “According to the document – a Boeing proposal to U.S. European Command (EUCOM), which is overseeing weapons headed to Ukraine – the main components of the GLSDB would come from current U.S. stores,” Reuters writes.
“The M26 rocket motor is relatively abundant, and the GBU-39 costs about $40,000 each, making the completed GLSDB inexpensive and its main components readily available,” the report adds. “Although arms manufacturers are struggling with demand, those factors make it possible to yield weapons by early 2023, albeit at a low rate of production.”
Given that some US generals and officials have forecast that the Ukraine conflict could take years before the fighting ceases, and given already arms availability is becoming a major determinant for what gets sent, the massive Western weapons pipeline to Kiev could be growing thinner by the month.