For small teams of warriors on the ground, successfully and effectively calling in Close Air Support (CAS) can be a matter of life and death- especially when faced with a numerically superior enemy. However, even when calling in the "air cavalry", there are limitations- especially when friendly forces are extremely close to an advancing force. In some cases, friendly bombers are unable to drop their ordnance, for fear of killing their own men. A team at Eglin is helping address the problem:
More:by Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary
96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Eglin AFB FL (AFPN) Jun 27, 2008
Guided munitions such as the Small Diameter Bomb have helped change the way wars are fought. SDBs, prepared by 681st Armament Systems Squadron members here, give aircrews the ability to destroy targets that would normally be passed over due to the proximity of friendly troops, civilians, structures or personal property.
It is also an all-weather global positioning system-guided munition capable of standoff ranges of more than 40 miles.
"This air-to-ground munition gives our warfighters a conventional bomb without the fragmentation and blast area of other weapons in our inventory," said Dave Ward of the 681st ARSS. "The weapon is revolutionary and is based on the Small Smart Munitions technology."
The size and accuracy of SDBs allows aircraft to carry more munitions to more targets and strike them more effectively with less collateral damage. Because of its capabilities, the SDB system is an important element of the Air Force's Global Strike Task Force.
Under the official title of "Production and Deployment for the Small Diameter Bomb," the program is being conducted by the Air Armament Center's 681st ARSS members at Eglin Air Force Base.
"We have added an extraordinary capability to our warfighter's arsenal," said Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, the Combined Forces Air Component commander in a 2006 interview after the first SDB arrived in theater.
"The GBU-39/B (SDB) provides the Air Force with the ability to reduce collateral damage, while providing joint terminal attack controllers another option to prosecute targets. It is a significant milestone for our coalition forces fighting the war on terrorism."
When the SDB-I was first delivered to support operations in the war on terrorism in September 2006, the logistics team traveled to the deployed theater to set up training for both the pilots and the maintainers.
The team was instrumental in helping the first operational deployment of the weapon, which occurred Oct. 5, 2006, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.