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Arsenal of Democracy

U.S. is reportedly sending Ukraine HIMARS-fired GLSDB smart bombs capable of grazing Crimea

The Biden administration next military aid package for Ukraine will include a smart bomb that can be fired from a HIMARS rocket system and hit precise targets up to 94 miles (150 km) away, twice the range of Ukraine's current munitions, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal report. The package including the longer-range Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) will be announced as soon as Friday. 

The current rockets the U.S. has supplied for the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) can travel up to 48 miles (77 km). The arrival of the HIMARS in June gave the Ukrainian military a major boost, allowing it to hit Russian supply chains and ammunition dumps. The 250-pound, GPS-guided GLSDB "will put all of Russia's supply lines in the east of the country within reach, as well as part of Russian-occupied Crimea," Reuters reports

The U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles sought by Ukraine, with a range of 185 miles (297 km), would put all of Crimea in Ukraine's sights. 

The GLSDB, made in Missouri by Sweden's SAAB and Boeing, combines a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb and a M26 rocket. It uses wings and a rocket motor to glide to its target. "This allows it to be targeted accurately as though it was launched from an aircraft, without putting a pilot at risk and at lower cost," the Journal explains. "The bomb also has advanced tracking systems to make it more accurate, with a claimed precision to within the width of a car tire."

"We are currently unable to reach Russian military facilities more than 80 kilometers away," Ukrainian military analyst Oleksandr Musiyenko told Reuters. "If we can reach them practically all the way to the Russian border, or in occupied Crimea, then of course this will lower the attacking potential of Russian forces." Russia uses Crimea "as a big military base from which it sends reinforcements for its troops on the southern front," he added. "If we had a 150km, we could reach that and disrupt the logistical connection with Crimea."

The GLSDB could arrive in Ukraine as soon as the spring, Reuters reports. The Biden administration will provide them through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which pays for new weapons and systems instead of pulling them from U.S. stockpiles, the Journal says.