Ukraine Is Getting a New American-Made Bomb Before the Pentagon. Here’s What We Know.

The Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb will reportedly be the latest weapon to be deployed by Ukraine before anyone else—even the U.S. military.
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Promotional image via Saab.

A new type of high-tech, American-made bomb is being sent to Ukraine before the U.S. military, according to reports. 

The U.S. is expected to ship the new Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) to Ukraine this week, according to a new report from Politico. The GLSDB is notable because it’s new and untested on the battlefield. According to anonymous sources talking to Politico, Kyiv will field the bombs in its fight against Russia long before the weapons end up in Pentagon stores.


The GLSDB is a small and cheap guided bomb that would, if it works, almost double the range of Ukraine’s ground strikes. Kyiv’s current munitions only extend to roughly 50 miles. According to Saab and Boeing, who manufactured the GLSDB, the new bomb can strike targets just under 100 miles away.

The weapon is a modified version of the existing GBU-39 bomb that’s typically launched from the air. The 250-pound munition has been redesigned to be launched from ground based weapons systems like the HIMARS, but is compatible with a wide range of launchers. A launcher shoots the munition into the air and, when it gets close to its target, it unfolds wings and uses GPS systems to twist in the wind and strike within 3 feet of its target. The bomb can even twist 360 degrees to reach what it’s trying to kill.

A CGI promotional video on Saab’s website shows how the weapon is supposed to work. In the video, a soldier notices a convoy of enemy vehicles crossing a bridge over water. At the push of a button, the GLSDB rears from the back of a truck, flies through the air, and destroys a portion of the bridge. This locks the convoy in place and a reign of bombs destroys the vehicles.

Ukraine will be the first to use the weapons in combat, which will serve as a kind of test of the system for Boeing, Saab, and the Pentagon. Kyiv will have the weapon in its stockpile before Washington does, and that’s by choice. The weapon has been in development for years and, despite early successful tests as far back as 2019, the Pentagon didn’t want it. It only agreed to buy the weapons after deciding they’d donate them to Ukraine as part of a proposed aid package from February, which was followed by months of testing and retrofitting the bombs.

Although U.S. officials say the GLSDB is on its way to Ukraine for the first time, Russia has already claimed it shot one down. After Washington name-checked the GLSDB in the aid package last year, Moscow claimed it had shot one down near Krasny Liman. "In the past 24 hours, air defense capabilities intercepted 18 rockets of the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system and one GLSDB guided munition," a Kremlin spokesperson said in March, 2023.

The delivery of the weapons comes at a time when aid to Ukraine has become a hot button political issue in the United States. Senate Democrats have been attempting to pass a $111 billion security package that  includes more than $15 billion for Ukraine since December. The GOP has blocked the bill as it fights the White House over immigration and a number of other issues.

Despite the political fights, both Biden and the DoD have found ways to get money and weapons to Ukraine in fits and starts. Each one of the warheads for the GLSD costs $40,000, making it one of the cheaper weapons the U.S. is sending.