Following successful testing in the United States, Ukraine is poised to receive a substantial shipment of long-range missiles manufactured by Boeing (BA.N), which, according to sources familiar with the matter, boast extended reach deep into territories held by Russia. The anticipated delivery date is speculated to be as early as Wednesday, as reported by Politico.
Ukraine is in urgent need of Boeing’s Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) to supplement the limited supply of 100-mile range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rockets provided by the U.S. The introduction of these glide bombs will empower Ukraine’s military to strike targets at twice the distance achievable by the current rockets launched from the U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). This strategic advancement could potentially compel Russia to relocate supplies even further away from the front lines.
Tests of the newly constructed GLSDB were conducted on January 16 at the Eglin Air Force Base test range in Florida, according to individuals familiar with the test and briefed on the matter. The successful testing paved the way for shipments to commence, with six rockets fired in an early morning test over the Gulf of Mexico.
The plan is for launchers and numerous warheads to be transported to Ukraine via air transport, with the timing of the delivery and subsequent deployment kept confidential to preserve the element of surprise. The Biden administration’s decision to provide GLSDB to Ukraine serves as an alternative to the ATACMS missile, which has only been supplied in limited quantities thus far. Ukraine’s supply of ATACMS has been depleted through use.
While the new glide bombs may not match the potency of ATACMS, they offer advantages in terms of cost, size, and ease of deployment, aligning well with Ukraine’s objectives of disrupting Russian operations and gaining a tactical advantage.
Tom Karako, a weapons and security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, emphasized the importance of finding creative means to provide the capability and capacity needed to strike deep into Russian lines.
Boeing had presented an “expedited nine-month option” for delivery when pitching the weapon to commanders last year, requiring exemption from an in-depth review to ensure the best possible deal for the Pentagon. Publicly announced in February, funding was approved, and a production contract was signed the following month, as per U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters. Due to the pre-payment for GLSDB, the weapon avoids recent Congressional funding disputes over continued weapons shipments to Ukraine. Despite requests for comment, Boeing, the prime contractor for the weapon, did not respond.