Washington plans to ship its first batch of ground-launched long-range bombs to Kiev this week. The arms were designed for the Ukrainian military and will give Kiev another option for deep strikes.
The new weapon was developed by Boeing and Saab. It combines a 250-pound guided bomb intended to be launched by an aircraft and straps it to a rocket motor. Washington believes it has a range of 90 miles.
Boeing and Saab pitched combining the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket motor in November 2022. President Joe Biden approved the transfer of the long-range bomb to Ukraine in February 2023. However, the delivery of the munitions was delayed because it needed to be developed and tested.
Politico spoke with four officials who confirmed the first batch would arrive in Ukraine this week. The officials touted the weapons as giving Ukraine “a significant capability.” “It gives them a deeper strike capability they haven’t had, it complements their long-range fire arsenal,” the US official said. “It’s just an extra arrow in the quiver that’s gonna allow them to do more.”
The officials did not say how many bombs will be sent to Ukraine. At times, Washington has sent an extremely limited number of some types of arms to Kiev. Ukrainian forces recently conducted strikes deep in Russian-held territory on civilian targets. Earlier this month, at least 27 people were killed in a Ukrainian attack on a market on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk in the Russian-controlled portion of the Donetsk Oblast.
While the bombs may give Ukraine another option for deep strikes, it does not fill massive gaps in Kiev’s war needs. Ukraine is running short on manpower. Additionally, front-line troops lack artillery shells to fight back advancing Russian forces, and Kiev is short on air defense interceptors to protect its key infrastructure.
Ukraine’s Western backers are facing multiple hurdles to providing Kiev with more weapons. In Washington, the White House is gridlocked with Republicans in Congress on the supplemental defense spending bill that includes $61 billion in aid for Ukraine. However, even if the legislation is passed, Western reserves of 155 mm artillery shells and air defense interceptors are nearly depleted.