New small diameter bomb II (SDB) technology is being developed faster then they can be installed in fighter jets, due to incompatibility in the F-35B planes. While the SDBs are being retrofitted into all current F-35B fighter jets, it’s predicted that this could take as long as seven year’s time. It’s planned that the newer bombs will be fitted into all F-35B Lightning jets by 2022. While the bombs currently fit into the F-35A variant jet, due to an internal cannon that the B and C don’t have yet, the US hasn’t yet purchased the promised 1,763 JSF F-35A multi-role fighters yet. There is no expected date for the new fighter jets to be in use.
This incompatibility leads to a gap in technology that hopefully unfriendly nations won’t be taking advantage of. Since 2022 is nearly seven years away, the newer advances during that time present certain challenges. Will the current bombs be considered antiques by the time the F-35Bs have been retrofitted to handle them? What about the stealth fighter F-35C? Are there any plans on the block to retrofit it with new bomb technology? Technology can change month by month, so it’s troubling to consider how slowly it takes to not only purchase new fighter planes, but to retrofit older ones with newer technology. And just how fast is the competition keeping up?
The F-35s consist of three different fighter plane configurations. They’re used by both Canadian and American military. The F-35A is built for landing on conventional runways. The F-35B is made for short takeoffs and vertical landings, which is important for remote regions with small runways. the F-35C is the stealth fighter, and is built to be carried out on an aircraft carrier. It can also fly longer distances for missions. The new SDBs are so important, as they are built with the latest “tri-mode” seeker. This allows the pilot to direct the bomb more accurately, through the use of millimeter wave radar and imaging infrared guidance. The SDB II can track and hit moving targets from long distances. This technology becomes highly useful in protecting fighter pilots and expensive F-35Bs from warring factions.
With the current crisis in Syria and Iraq, the SDB II bombs could prove to be extremely useful. The issue is that they’re needed now, not seven years down the road. Possibly IS (Islamic State) will have evolved into something less troublesome over the years, much like the Taliban calmed down a bit after realizing that you can’t wage war forever. But for now, new bomb technology would cut down on the number of deaths and injuries in the war on terrorism. We can only hope that the Pentagon stays on top of their testing and investment in fighter plane and bombing technology, as the world continues to present new and difficult conflicts. The Western world continues to look to the US to play their part in worldwide conflicts.