US approves large RAAF SBD II buy

ORD_GBU-53_SDB-II_Rendering_lgThe US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced the approval of a possible US$815m (A$1.04bn) Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II) weapons for the RAAF.

The sale comprises 3,900 SBD IIs, 30 guided test vehicles, 60 captive carry reliability trainers, as well as auxiliary equipment including Weapon Load Crew Trainers (WLCT), Practical Explosive Ordinance Disposal Trainers (PEST), containers, and support and ground crew test equipment.

The weapons will be employed on the RAAF’s F-35A Lightning II fighters, two of which are currently flying with the multi-national training unit at Luke AFB in Arizona, and which is expected to achieve initial operational capability with the RAAF in 2020/21.

“The proposed sale of SDB II supports and complements the ongoing sale of the F-35A to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF),” the DSCA statement reads.

“This capability will strengthen combined operations, particularly air to ground strike missions in all-weather conditions, and increase interoperability between the United States and the RAAF. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.”

The sale is still subject to a final decision by the Australian Government.