Warplanes: October 9, 2003


On September 10th, a U.S. Air Force B-2 bomber released 80 smart bombs, at 80 different targets, in one pass. This was a test of the B-2s new ability to carry 80 smaller JDAM (satellite guided) smart bombs, rather than the previous maximum of 16 larger bombs. The new bomb racks (mechanical equipment that holds and releases the bombs) are called SBRA (Smart Bomb Release Assembly). The new racks come with new software for the B-2s fire control system that allow the pilot to select when each bomb is released and which location it's guidance system is programmed for. Having one B-2 bomber come in and hit eighty targets, with a high degree of accuracy, within a few minutes, is more devastating than many more less accurate bombs dropped by more aircraft over a longer period of time. The reason for this is surprise. Enemy troops have less time to run for cover or get their weapons into action. Since the B-2 tends to operate at night, the surprise is even more devastating. The SBRA has been in development since 2001 and tests have been going on through the Summer. SBRA will enter service about a year from now. Development cost $131 million and production of the racks will cost about $1.6 million per aircraft.


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