Ukraine Situation Report: Kyiv Officially Getting Long-Range Rocket-Boosted Bomb

The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb will enable Ukraine to hit targets at twice the distance of any weapon currently provided.

byHoward Altman|
Ukraine will soon field Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs. (GLSDM)


The Pentagon on Friday officially confirmed that the U.S. will include an undisclosed number of Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) in the latest $2.17 billion tranche of aid to Ukraine.

The munition - officially listed on the aid package as "precision-guided rockets," will provide a major boost to Ukraine’s efforts to take back territory from Russia by giving its troops the capability to hit targets at distances much further than the longest-range munitions already provided to Kyiv.

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The recently developed GLSDB, an adaptation of the widely used air-launched Small Diameter Bomb, or SDB, has not previously found a customer but would provide a significant boost to Ukraine’s capacity to strike in Russian rear areas. The GLSDB has a range of around 94 miles, or 150 kilometers.

That's roughly over double the range of the guided munitions fired by the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and variants thereof, and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). 

Ukraine will now receive munitions that have twice the range of those fired by the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) (U.S. Army photo) US ARMY

You can read more about how GBSDB will help Ukraine in our deep dive here.

The GLSDB gives Ukraine “long-range fires capability that will enable them to conduct operations in defense of their country and to take back their sovereign territory - Russian occupied areas,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman during a press briefing Friday.

The bombs won't likely reach Ukraine for several months, Marine Lt. Col. Garron Garn, a Pentagon spokesman, told The War Zone Friday evening.

Asked if the GLSDB could be used to targets in the Crimean peninsula Russia has occupied since 2014, Ryder deferred to the Ukrainians, but did not indicate any preclusions against doing so. A Pentagon official back in July told The War Zone that Russian forces in Ukrainian territory, are “fair targets.” That includes Crimea and Vladimir Putin's $4 billion prized Kerch Bridge linking the peninsula with Russia. Though still too far out of range at the moment of any Ukrainian weapon, including the GLSDB still to be delivered, the bridge was attacked Oct. 8 and portions several damaged.

“Clearly, that is their decision, Ryder said of the Ukrainians, who have made no secret about their intent to liberate Crimea and the rest of the occupied land. “They're on the lead for those so I'm not going to talk about or speculate about potential future operations.”

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Ukrainian troops now in Kherson Oblast are the closest to Crimea. Fired from there, the GLSDB would enable Ukraine to hit targets in roughly the northern third of Crimea, including an ammunition storage facility in Dzhankoi, which has previously been hit by what the Russians claimed was a sabotage attack. The GLSDB would also give Ukraine some increased measure of fire control of the land bridge to Crime through the areas of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts now controlled by Russia.

The official announcement of the GLSDB, the provision of which was first reported by Reuters on Tuesday and confirmed Wednesday by The War Zone, comes on a day when Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov flat-out stated a well-known assumption. That Ukraine was going to use the promised influx of western tanks - like the 31 U.S. M1A2 Abrams, 14 U.K. provided Challenger 2 tanks and Leopard 2 and Leopard 1 variants (the latter suggested today) promised by NATO allies - for counteroffensives. Depending on how soon some of them can arrive, with many being months or even years out, some may be included in a looming operation of this kind that may occur as early as this spring.

“We need a ‘tank coalition’ with the main tanks of NATO countries for a counteroffensive,” Reznikov said Friday at a joint press conference with the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Poland Mariusz Blaszczak. “We will use them as a ‘steel fist’ to break through their defense line when these hulls are ready. Our General Staff will decide in which place to do it.”

Ukraine is using its domestic drones, artillery, and missiles to hit targets in Russia. But in what seemed like another pitch for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) short-range ballistic missile, Reznikov on Thursday promised that Ukraine would not use longer-range weapons in Russian territory. The ATACMS have a range of nearly 200 miles.

The U.S. has been reluctant to send Ukraine ATACMS out of fear of broadening the conflict.

“If we get the opportunity to hit targets at a distance of up to 300 km (186.4 miles), the Russian army will not be able to prevail and will be forced to retreat," Reznikov said at a joint meeting of the Government of Ukraine and the European Commission in Kyiv on Thursday. "Ukraine is ready to give any guarantees that your weapons will not be used to shell the territory of the Russian Federation. We have many targets on temporarily occupied Ukrainian land, and we are ready to coordinate the selection of targets with our partners.”

Before we head into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up with our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

In addition to the GLSDB, the latest tranche of aid to Ukraine provides a wide range of other weapons and systems, like more 155mm artillery rounds, 120mm mortar rounds, machine guns to counter drones, shoulder-fired Javelin anti-tank missile systems, and air defense systems and integration equipment. It comes from separate sources - $425 million worth of arms and equipment from DoD inventories under Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), as well as $1.75 billion in additional support under DoD’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

This is the 31st PDA and all told, the Biden administration has provided Ukraine with $30 billion in military assistance, the vast majority of it after Russia launched its full-on invasion nearly a year ago.  

Capabilities in the $475 million PDA package are expected to include:

  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • Additional 155mm artillery rounds;
  • Additional 120mm mortar rounds;
  • 190 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights and associated ammunition to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • 181 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles;
  • 250 Javelin anti-armor systems;
  • 2,000 anti-armor rockets;
  • Claymore anti-personnel munitions (configured to be compliant with the Ottawa Convention);
  • Demolitions munitions;
  • Cold weather gear, helmets, and other field equipment.

Capabilities in DoD’s February 2 $1.75 billion USAI package are expected to include:

  • Two HAWK air defense firing units;
  • Anti-aircraft guns and ammunition;
  • Equipment to integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles, and radars with Ukraine's air defense systems;
  • Equipment to sustain Ukraine's existing air defense capabilities;
  • Air defense generators;
  • Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • Four air surveillance radars;
  • 20 counter-mortar radars;
  • Spare parts for counter-artillery radars;
  • Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
  • Precision-guided rockets;
  • Secure communications equipment;
  • Medical supplies;
  • Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.

Neither the Pentagon nor State Department would provide any additional details to The War Zone about the types of equipment being sent to Kyiv to integrate Western air defense systems with Ukraine's existing systems, the equipment to sustain it, the counter-unmanned aerial systems or radars.

Stitching together all those systems and air defense munitions Ukraine has received into an integrated air defense system is quite an undertaking, but does seem to be the goal, at least on some level.

When it comes to air defense munitions, past packages have included, for instance, an undisclosed number of radar-guided RIM-7 Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, which will be integrated onto the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ existing Soviet-era Buk air defense systems. 

The U.S. has previously provided Ukraine with RIM-7 Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles to use with its existing Soviet-era air defense systems.

Ukraine has also received a wide assortment of systems, like the U.S.-made Patriot air defense system, National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missiles Systems, or NASAMS, and the German-made IRIS-T SLM and Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG). It has also been promised the Aster SAMP/T by Italy and France, among other international systems. During the briefing, Ryder said he would not discuss "operationally sensitive matters" but gave a general sense of how the air defense equipment in today's packages would be used.

"First of all, it's important to recognize that Ukrainians already have done a fairly remarkable job of deploying the air defense capabilities that they have," he noted. "That said, we do recognize that as they take these new pieces and parts are integrated into their system, continued support is required. And so we consult regularly with the Ukrainians and our international allies and partners in how they can best integrate those systems. That is ongoing work. But again, they've been doing a pretty remarkable job of intercepting Russian missiles and drones."

Beyond any new counteroffensives it may be planning, Ukraine continues to sound the alarm over what Kyiv says is a looming new Russian attack.

Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence directorate (GUR) on Friday reiterated its assertion that the ongoing Russian push in the Donbas is a reaction to Vladimir Putin’s order to recapture the entire territory by March.

"We expect very active events in February-March,” GUR spokesman Adriy Yusov said Friday, according to the GUR Telegram channel. “Putin's task is to seize Donbas by March. Nothing will work. These dates have already been postponed many times. The intensity that we are currently observing in Donbas is an attempt to implement these plans.”

During his joint press conference today, Reznikov warned of a new Russian offensive in the south and east and said that Ukraine will use its available resources to counter it, primarily 155mm artillery.

"That's why we say today that the priority on the battlefield remains 155mm artillery and shells for it," he said.

The Kremlin on Friday rejected as a "hoax" media reports that U.S. CIA Director William Burns had traveled to Moscow with a secret peace proposal that involved Ukraine ceding a fifth of its territory to Russia, Reuters reported Friday.

The Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung's report, which said Burns had made a secret trip to Moscow last month to put forward the plan on behalf of the White House, has also been dismissed by Washington.

We reached out to Ukrainian officials for comment and will update this story with any information they provide.

A senior Russian lieutenant who fled after serving in Ukraine told The Guardian on Thursday how his country’s troops tortured prisoners of war and threatened some with rape.

Konstantin Yefremov left Russia in December after spending three months in the parts of the southern Zaporizhzhia oblast that were occupied in Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I have personally seen our troops torture Ukrainian soldiers,” Yefremov, who is the most senior soldier to speak out against the war, told the Guardian in a phone call from Mexico, where he currently is. “I feel relieved that I can finally speak out about the things I have seen.”

Those who collaborate with Russians remain a target for violence, like this former Ukrainian policeman Yevhen Kuzmin, whose car was reportedly blown up in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Another Russian T-80 tank was spotted burning in Ukraine.

But the crew of a Russian T-72 tank apparently got a little luckier, as you can see in this video below.

Ukrainian forces apparently captured a Russian MT-LB amphibious tracked armored vehicle variant near Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast, according to the Ukraine Weapons Tracker OSINT group. Of particular interest was that it was up-gunned with a 2M-7 naval turret with two KPV 14.5mm heavy machine guns, normally used on Russian military vessels.

Russia's rare 9A331MDT Tor-M2DT air defense systems are having bad luck in Ukraine. The Ukraine Weapons Tracker OSINT group posted that for the second time in as many days, Ukrainian forces destroyed one. The first was destroyed yesterday. The systems were only recently brought into Ukraine from Arctic regions.

That's it for now. We will update this story if there is anything major to add.

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