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State Department, Pentagon approve massive weapons sale, worth $1.9 billion, to Israel in bid to ward off concerns over Iran nuclear negotiations, Gulf states' military procurements.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency – a section of the Department of Defense – said it submitted the required certification to Congress on May 18. If approved by the US legislature, Israel will receive the massive shipment, which among other tactical weapons includes 50 BLU-113 Super Penetrator and 700 BLU-109 Penetrator bunker buster missiles.
The package could include an increase in the number of F-35 fighter jets the US is to supply Israel, and additional batteries for Israel’s anti-missile defense systems, according to reports in both Haaretz (Hebrew) and Yedioth Ahronoth this week.
Jane's Defence report
The US State Department has approved the sale to Israel of over 20,000 guided bomb kits and 8,650 associated warheads, including additional 5,000 lb 'bunker busters', the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 19 May.
The DSCA notification said the estimated cost of the proposed sales, which also includes 250 AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) and 3,000 AGM-114K/R Hellfire missiles, was USD1.9 billion.
The notification listed 10,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) GPS guidance kits for 2,000 lb (907 kg) MK 84 general purpose bombs, 500 JDAM kits for 1,000 lb MK 83 bombs, and 4,000 JDAM kits for 500 lb MK 82 bombs.
Israel has also requested 500 DSU-38A/B kits that can be used to upgrade JDAMs so they can be guided to their target using a laser designator as well as GPS, making them more flexible and accurate weapons that can be used against moving targets if needed.
The notification listed 1,500 Paveway laser guidance kits for MK 83s and another 500 for 2,000 lb BLU-109 penetrator warheads, which are used against bunkers. In terms of warheads, the notification said Israel had requested 4,500 MK 83s and 3,500 MK 82s, but no additional MK 84s or BLU-109s. Most notably, Israel has requested 50 BLU-113 warheads.
The BLU-113 is a 5,000 lb penetrator used with the GBU-28 laser-guided bomb that is designed to destroy deeply buried and heavily fortified targets.
Previous DSCA notifications suggest Israel already has up to 150 GBU-28s, which would be key weapons if it attempted to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. However, the latest notification did not list the associated Paveway guidance kit that would be needed to use the additional 50 warheads effectively or mention the GBU-28 by name.
The final item covered by the request was 4,100 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB), which is a 250 lb-class GPS-guided weapon with flip-out wings to increase its range. The small size of the bomb reduces the risk of collateral damage and allows more to be carried by an aircraft. It also has better penetration capabilities than general purpose bombs.