| Mission: The
Guided Bomb Unit or GBU-15 is an
glide weapon used to destroy high value enemy targets. It was designed
for use with F-15E, F-111F and F-4 aircraft, but the U.S. Air Force is
currently only deploying it from the F-15E Strike Eagle.
weapon consists of modular components
are attached to either a MK-84 general purpose or BLU-109 penetrating
warhead. Each weapon has five components -- a forward guidance section,
warhead adapter section, control module, airfoil components and a
weapon data link.
The guidance section is attached to the nose of the weapon and contains
either a television guidance system for daytime or an imaging infrared
system for night or limited, adverse weather operations. A data link in
the tail section sends guidance updates to the control aircraft that
enables the weapon systems operator to guide the bomb by remote control
to its target.
An external electrical conduit extends the length of the warhead and
attaches the guidance adapter and control unit. The conduit carries
electrical signals between the guidance and control sections. The
umbilical receptacle passes guidance and control data between cockpit
control systems of the launching aircraft and the weapon prior to
The rear control section consists of four wings that are in an "X"-like
arrangement with trailing edge flap control surfaces for flight
maneuvering. The control module contains the autopilot, which collects
steering data from the guidance section and converts the information
into signals that move the wing control surfaces to change the weapon's
The GBU-15 may be used in either a direct or an indirect attack mode.
In a direct attack mode, the pilot selects a target before launch,
locks the weapon guidance system onto it and launches the weapon. The
weapon automatically guides itself to the target, enabling the pilot to
leave the area. In an indirect attack mode, the weapon is guided by
remote control after launch. The pilot releases the weapon and, via
remote control, searches for the target. Once the target is acquired,
the weapon can be locked to the target or manually guided via the
This highly maneuverable weapon has an optimal, low-to-medium altitude
delivery capability with pinpoint accuracy. It also has a standoff
capability. In Desert Storm, F-111F pilots used GBU-15 glide bombs to
seal flaming oil pipeline manifolds sabotaged by Saddam Hussein's
During 1999 to 2000, a large number of Legacy GBU-15 weapons received a
significant upgrade in the ability to attack in adverse weather
conditions by adding a Global Positioning System/inertial navigation
system guidance capability. This important upgrade further enhances the
warfighter's ability to attack targets, day or night. The enhanced
GBU-15 weapon system was successfully employed in combat in 2001,
directly supporting Operation Enduring Freedom combat operations.
Background: The Air
Force Development Test Center, Eglin
Force Base, Fla., began developing the GBU-15 in 1974. It was a product
improvement of the early guided bombs used during the Southeast Asia
conflict. Flight testing of the weapon began in 1975. The GBU-15 with
television guidance completed full-scale operational test and
evaluation in November 1983. In February 1985, initial operational test
and evaluation was completed on the imaging infrared guidance seeker.
In December 1987, the program management responsibility for the GBU-15
weapon system transferred from the Air Force Systems Command to the Air
Force Logistics Command. The commands merged to become the Air Force
Materiel Command in 1992.
During the integrated weapons system management process, AGM-130 and
GBU-15 were determined to be a family of weapons because of the
commonality of the two systems. The Precision Strike Program Office at
Eglin AFB became the single manager for the GBU-15, with the Air
Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, providing sustainment support.