The GBU-28 is a 5,000-pound (2,268 kg) laser-guided "bunker busting" bomb produced originally by the Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, New York. It was designed, manufactured, and deployed in less than three weeks due to an urgent need during Operation Desert Storm to penetrate hardened Iraqi command centers located deep underground. Only two of the weapons were dropped in Desert Storm, both by F-111Fs. One GBU-28 was dropped during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
|Type||Hard target laser-guided weapon|
|Place of origin||United States|
|In service||1991 to present|
|Used by||United States, Israel, South Korea|
|Designer||Defense Systems and Electronics Group (Texas Instruments)|
|Length||bomb body 155 inches, 225 inches overall|
|Diameter||40 centimetres (16 in)|
|Wingspan||2 metres (6.6 ft)|
|More than 10 kilometres (5.4 nmi)|
Design and developmentEdit
In August 1990, the U.S. military began planning an air offensive campaign against Iraq. Planners noticed that a few command and centre bunkers in Baghdad were located deep underground to withstand heavy fire. Doubts were raised about the ability of the BLU-109/B to penetrate such fortified structures, so the USAF Air Armament Division at Eglin AFB, Florida was asked to create a weapon that could, and engineer Al Weimorts sketched improved BLU-109 variants. By January 1991, as the Persian Gulf War was well underway, it was determined that the BLU-109/B-equipped laser-guided bombs (LGB) would be unable to penetrate fortified bunkers deep underground.
The initial batch of GBU-28s was built from modified 8 inch/203 mm artillery barrels (principally from deactivated M110 howitzers), but later examples are purpose-built with the BLU-113 bomb body made by National Forge of Irvine, Pennsylvania. They weigh 5,000 pounds (2,132 kg) and contain 630 pounds (286 kg) of high explosive.
The operator illuminates a target with a laser designator and the munition guides itself to the spot of laser light reflected from the target. When the GBU-28 hits the ground, a short-delay time fuze is activated which triggers detonation when it has penetrated deeply enough to completely destroy the target.
The bomb underwent testing at the Tonopah Test Range, Nevada, a test facility for United States Department of Energy funded weapon programs. An F-111F of the 431st TES (Test & Evaluation Squadron) based at McClellan AFB in California dropped the first GBU-28 at Tonopah. It proved capable of penetrating over 50 meters (150 ft) of earth or 5 meters (15 ft) of solid concrete; this was demonstrated when a test bomb, bolted to a missile sled, smashed through 22 ft (6.7 m) of reinforced concrete and still retained enough kinetic energy to travel a mile downrange. The GBU-28 is unique in that the total development time from conception to the first drop test took only two weeks, and the weapon went into active service after only one test drop, at Eglin AFB, Florida on 19 February 1991.
On the night of 27/28 February 1991, within hours of the ceasefire, two General Dynamics F-111Fs, loaded with one GBU-28 each, headed towards a target on the outskirts of Baghdad. The al-Taji Airbase, located 15 mi (27.4 km) northwest of the Iraqi capital, had been hit at least three times by GBU-27/Bs from F-117 Nighthawks, "digging up the rose garden". The first GBU-28 was dropped off-target due to target misidentification. The second GBU-28 was a direct hit and penetrated the thick reinforced concrete before detonating, killing everyone inside.
The bomb was used during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 by USAF F-15Es.
The first foreign sale of the GBU-28 was the acquisition of 100 units by Israel, authorized in April 2005. Delivery of the weapons was accelerated at the request of Israel in July 2006. Delivery was described as "upcoming" in a cable dated November 2009 which suggested that the weapon could be used against Iran's nuclear facilities. Fifty-five GBU-28's were delivered to Israel in 2009. There were unconfirmed reports that Israel used the GBU-28 during the 2008–2009 Gaza War.
According to the Jerusalem Post on 23 December 2011 the US Justice Department announced that it had reached a settlement with Kaman Corp. which allegedly substituted a fuze in four lots of fuzes made for the bombs. Under the settlement, Kaman Corp. will pay the government $4.75 million. Israel rated concerns it had also received GBU-28 bombs fuzed to prematurely detonate before penetration or at other times.
- Report to Congress on the Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, Es.rice.edu, retrieved 14 July 2011
- "Operation IRAQI FREEDOM – By The Numbers" (PDF). 30 April 2003. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
- "PROCUREMENT OF AMMUNITION" (PDF). USAF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
- Clancy 1995, p. 154.
- Raytheon (Texas Instruments) Paveway III, Designation-systems.net, 21 August 2008, retrieved 14 July 2011
- "BLU-122/B Penetrator" (PDF). General Dynamics. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Manufacture of Bomb Live Unit-122 (BLU-122), a 5000 pound Class of penetrator warhead case". Federal Business Opportunities. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) Bunker Buster — Smart Weapons, FAS.org, retrieved 14 July 2011
- Clancy 1995, p. 155.
- Raytheon GBU-28 Bunker Buster, A US Air Power, retrieved 14 July 2011
- "History Eglin Heritage Briefing" (PDF). Nwfdailynews.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
- Clancy 1995, p. 157.
- US Wants to Sell Israel 'Bunker-Buster' Bombs, Commondreams.org, retrieved 14 July 2011
- "US embassy cables: Israel seeks to block US planes for SaudiUS embassy cables: Israel seeks to block US planes for Saudi". The Guardian. 28 November 2010.
- Eli Lake (23 September 2011). "President Obama Secretly Approved Transfer of Bunker-Buster Bombs to Israel". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
- "The Israeli Arsenal Deployed against Gaza during Operation Cast Lead". Journal of Palestine Studies. University of California Press on behalf of the Institute for Palestine Studies. 38 (3): 185. Spring 2009. JSTOR 10.1525/jps.2009.XXXVIII.3.175.
- "US to sell 'bunker-buster' bombs to SKorea: official". AFP. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
- "Bunker buster bombs from US may be defective - Defense - Jerusalem Post". Jpost.com. 26 December 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to GBU-28.|
- Raas, Whitney; Long, Austin (April 2006), Osirak Redux? Assessing Israeli Capabilities to Destroy Iranian Nuclear Facilities, Security Studies Program Working Paper (PDF), MIT