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The GBU-39, Iran, Gaza and the IHT

Promoted from the diaries by Jeff. What a surprise that the international edition of the New York Times got its facts wrong, and is refusing to correct its story! -JE

There’s a curious story being featured on Drudge right now from the International Herald Tribune that pumps hot air into the story that the United States rebuffed Israel’s military requests on several occasions recently. I won’t go into the parts of the story that deal with leaked intelligence reports or speculation on classified sections of leaked intelligence reports. Instead I will just note that one key element of their story, the lead paragraph in fact, has recently been rendered at least partially incorrect — and strangely incomplete.

This may have been true at some point in last year (May, for example) but it is not true at a later point (September, for example) of last year:

President George W. Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials.

The “specialized bunker-busting bombs” the article refers to as being “deflected” by President George W. Bush are none other than the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, which are 250-pound GPS/Inertial guided and wing-stabilized munitions, some of the most advanced weapons in the U.S. inventory. The sale of the GBU-39 was initially rejected by the Bush Administration earlier in the year, but that was reversed in September and reported by Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post when it was reauthorized.

They quite obviously have not been “deflected” because because the IAF has them on their planes right now, and has used them in the ongoing operations in Gaza.

What is curious to me is why 1) the IHT hasn’t corrected their story (which in terms of the first paragraph would have only been accurate in May of 2008) and 2) why didn’t they realize that it would take the authorization of the President to approve the sale of those weapons?

I mean, even bloggers know that the President had to have ultimately authorized the sale, before Congress approved it.

Bush is a champ

DOD has been adamant, but it appears the US is not prepared to leave its ally hanging and Haaretz is reporting that the Advanced JDAMS sale has been suddenly approved despite serious reservations, DOD gives the good word on approval by the ‘administration’, anyone care to guess who gave that order?

Why is the IHT unaware of the sale of the GBU-39? The Huffington Post knows about it.

Aside from the strange way this story is being mis-reported by the IHT, the important facts about the GBU-39 are that it is a 250-pound precision guided munition which significantly extends the capabilities of Israel’s air defense forces. Four of them can be carried in the place of a single, older 1,000 pound bomb, allowing multiple passes at a target and/or a significantly reduced aircraft takeoff weight. Secondly, it’s much more accurate with a CEP of something like 6 feet from as far as 40 miles away. It can penetrate over a meter of reinforced concrete and be set to detonate after it pierces that depth. In other words, it gives the IAF vastly enhanced standoff and precision target capability. It is particularly notable that a plane armed with the GBU-39 would be able to attack targets defended by the Russian-made Tor-M1.

Iran has 29 of the Tor-M1 systems, purchased in 2005, which cannot engage a target 40 miles away. It was reported that Venezuela purchased three batteries of those same systems in January of 2007, although the reporting is unclear as to whether Venezuela has taken delivery of those systems as of this date.

You can watch the Discovery Channel’s piece on the GBU-39 here:

“We can be going away from the target, release the weapon, and because it is GPS guided, and because of the way it was designed, it will actually turn around and fly back to the target.”

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