Stunning image captures a split second before a GBU-10 bomb dropped by a B-1 hits a small boat at sea

On Sept. 4, the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron sent a solo B-1B over the Gulf of Mexico and its sea ranges to prove the concept that Lancers (or “Bones” as the swing wing bombers are dubbed) can be used to attack surface targets whilst at sea; in other words, the goal of the mission was to assess and improve the B-1’s capabilities.

According to the Dyess AFB website the B-1 released six munitions, including a 500lb GBU-54 laser guided bomb as well as 500lb and 2000lb  joint direct attack munitions (JDAM).

Lt. Col. Alejandro Gomez, 337th TES special projects officer said: “This evaluation solidifies what our crew members have already known: We can strike surface targets. The knowledge we gain from these events gives combatant commanders assurance that we can be called upon to complete the mission.”

The mission, called a “a maritime tactics development and evaluation” or TD&E ,saw the B-1 being given the goal of detect, target and engage small boats using currently fielded and available weapons, released in all weather conditions.

The dramatic photo in this post was taken during the mission and shows that the B-1 was very effective in doing its goals: the term “using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut” springs to mind as the GBU-10 is captured a split second before annihilating a small rigid hulled boat.

The Bone would give a group of Pirates a very bad day!

Richard Clements for


Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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      • Actually I believe the GBU-10 is ‘only’ in the region of $20.000 a pop. Or enough to feed a school of hungry children in Africa every day for 2 years.

        • Depending on which part of Africa your on about that is. For example say you tried to feed a school of hungry people in Somalia what might it actually cost after you send in a standing army to combat with islamic insurgents every day. Experience shows us that with out the army none of the food gets to the starving people. $20000 is only for the bomb. you forgot to mention the milage on the plane, the aircraft carrier it flys off, the fuel and in some cases the taxes you pay to operate in the region that needs to be protected. in total what aid does get through costs about 20 Trillion dollars per annum.

    • Or how about the cost of target practice compared to the cost of polluting the sea with munitions. Cool pic, though.

    • And what is the cost of training the team of Kuds Brigade Islamic Iranian Revolutionary Guards with shoulder-launched missiles in that boat, and a dozen others?
      I don’t think this is about Pirates. This is probably about exploring various ways to address the asymmetric threat from swarms of small boats manned with capable teams. If loitering B1s can pick off some of them that’s one more countermeasure. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up testing the A-10 against boats as well…

    • $30k a bomb. Pretty good for a guided munition when compared to a hellfire $75k I believe. Problem here though is the probability of a hit most likely decreases significantly with speed of target due to the GBU-10 limited ability to change direction in flight. Still an attack on a multitude of stationary targets in harbor would be very effective with this.

      • Not to mention an extra couple hundred pounds of *bang* for the buck!

        I’d love to see the size of that splash if they weren’t using an inert bomb.

    • The real question would be what cost savings were realized by preventing a suicide boat attack or pirates from completing their mission.

      An example, I used to cringe at the cost when I’d see youtubes of soldiers in Afghanistan using a Javelin to take out a couple of Taliban with a machine gun. But the $70k or so Javelin is a lot cheaper than the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take to evac a wounded soldier, treat him, and then pay him disability for the rest of his life.

    • IMO, it would’ve been cheaper and just as effective to launch a guided rocket from a drone plane, which we’ve already done to assassinate high ranking Al Quida leaders.

  1. the GBU-10 looks as big as the boat it’s about to annihilate. talk about overkill! ;)

    also it just dawned on me why B-1s are called bones…

    i know, it’s embarrassing, considering it wasn’t the first time i wondered why.

    anyway, thanks for sharing, the pictures are really interesting.

  2. Actually this was a law enforcement application. The US and state governments want to go all in on enforcing a multitude of state and federal laws including illegal fishing, poaching, jaywalking, littering and talking bad about the government. They will soon be getting close air support from the US military who, while going broke, is running out of defenseless targets to bomb. As Syria and countless countries before it have proven, your own people can fill this role quite well.

    @Eamo. The plan is to be judge, jury and executioner on the high seas, so there is a perceived cost savings by not bringing these villains back to shore for prosecution and imprisonment. :)

  3. This capability should be added (if it hasn’t been already) to the new P-8 Poseidon. Seeing how that aircraft is used for maritime patrol, wouldn’t they be the most likely aircraft on-station and in need of this capability?

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