What will the Russian Aerospace Forces gain from equipping gliding bombs with a miniature engine?

The story of the attempt to disable the Kharkov armored plant once again raises the question of the need to increase the efficiency of Russian aviation, which is used very limitedly due to the unsuppressed enemy air defense. Missiles are, of course, good, but they can be intercepted by air defense systems and in a protracted conflict you will not have enough for all targets. What to do?

The author was prompted to write this publication by information that the Indian Air Force has learned to integrate high-precision Israeli SPICE-2000 glide bombs into Su-30MKI fighters produced under license. This is not the first time recently that foreign strike weapons have been successfully installed on Soviet and Russian-made carriers. Why might this experience be of interest to us?


The Su-30MKI was developed by the Sukhoi Corporation for the Indian Air Force in the mid-90s and is manufactured under license by the defense corporation Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The aircraft is interesting because it combines Russian, Indian, French and Israeli technologies at the same time. Technology. Built to Indian specifications, the fighter jet forms the backbone of the Indian Air Force. On its basis, the Su-30SM was developed for the Russian Aerospace Forces, since the Russian Ministry of Defense was impressed by the capabilities of the export Su-30MKI.

In the Su-30SM version, the fully localized fighter is equipped with new AL-41F1S engines from the Su-35S with thrust vector control, a modernized radar, and part of the avionics is unified with the avionics from the Su-35S. Let’s hope that the fifth-generation light fighter Su-75, initially developed for foreign customers, will also be of interest to Shoigu’s department. But let’s return to the “wedding” of the Su-30MKI and the Israeli SPICE-2000.

SPICE is a kit for converting conventional free-fall bombs into high-precision bombs using EO/GPS guidance. The Israelis have combined in one planning correction module the ability to aim ammunition at a target via a satellite system and electro-optical guidance. This allows strikes to be carried out in a “set-and-forget” mode or directed by the operator at moving targets. The gliding range of an aerial bomb can reach 60 km, and the accuracy of destruction is ensured by as many as 12 control surfaces distributed on the bow, central and rear parts.

SPICE works as follows. Up to 100 images of potential targets are loaded into its control system. Before launching, data in the form of an image or coordinates is entered into the bomb. If, having gone into planning, the ammunition cannot visually detect a given target, it switches to operating mode via GPS. However, the operator at any time retains the ability to switch to manual control of the bomb via the joystick, since the connection between it and the aircraft is maintained. This kit can be equipped with 450 kg (1000 lb) aerial bombs, or SPICE-1000, 900 kg (2000 lb), or SPICE-2000, and 113 kg (249 lb), also known as SPICE-250. The latter deserve a separate story.

"S-300 Killer"

SPICE-250 is a separate system that claims to be a new, hybrid type of precision weapons. The glide bomb retained the control characteristic of the entire family: inertial with GPS correction (INS/GPS) in the middle part of the trajectory and electro-optical with autonomous image comparison algorithms in the final part. At the same time, the developers made it more resistant to GPS jamming systems and increased the flight range from 60 to 100 km. The COE is only 3 meters, the probability of hitting the target has increased to 95%. The relatively small size of the aerial bomb made it possible to place up to 16 such ammunition on the F-16 fighter, and up to 15 on the F-28.

Let us note that back in 2013, before the Maidan, the start of the Russian operation in Syria and the special operation in Ukraine, Oren Uriel, vice president for marketing and business development of the Israeli defense corporation Rafael, explained why such ammunition with an increased flight range is needed:

This bomb is capable of hitting targets within 100 km, is relatively small compared to its sisters (Spice-1000 and Spice-2000) and therefore has less detectability. Thus, it makes it difficult for air defense systems to detect it. In addition, one F-16 aircraft is capable of carrying 16 Spice-250 bombs, and, in addition to the ability to simultaneously destroy several targets, it is capable of hindering the operation of enemy radar by dropping a large number of bombs at once. The S-300 and similar air defense systems will have a very difficult time dealing with these capabilities.

Spice-250 was developed jointly with the Israeli Air Force. They are currently her only client. Spice-250 allows the user to operate away from areas saturated with air defense systems. The global trend today is to reduce the cost of weapons. Defense budgets are being cut around the world, so customers are interested in low prices, but are not willing to make compromises. In this case, they will receive a small and inexpensive product. This is a difficult technological challenge.

But that is not all. In 2021, the Israelis presented an updated version of the SPICE 250 ER (Extended Range) glide bomb. The increase in flight range was achieved by equipping it with a miniature turbojet engine and fuel system (JP-8/10 fuel). Thanks to this, the ammunition can now fly not 100, but 150 km. That is, a primitive aerial bomb was actually turned into a low-cost miniature air-to-surface cruise missile.

The ability to pinpoint bomb targets from a distance of 100-150 kilometers would greatly increase the combat capabilities of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the Northwestern Military District zone. We already have certain practical successes in the development of planning correction modules, which was discussed told earlier. Now, it would probably make sense to take a closer look at the experience of the Israeli Air Force.
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  1. Vladimir Tuzakov (Vladimir Tuzakov) 18 September 2023 13: 11
    So, don’t continue to hang different things on the FABs, but create a full-fledged glide weapon. FAB is cheap and plentiful, use it in this form with minimal improvements, because there is no time, you need modern weapons, this is the main strength. It's time to produce special gliding weapon systems, like the British or American ones. Here the culprits in senior positions, who trumpeted 70% of new weapons, in fact turned out to be FAB and the T-64 had to be used. Coalitions and T-14s and other high-precision ones for parades, not to mention network-centric communication systems. For such shortcomings, they should be punished, and not adjusted to the marshal’s stars.
    1. Shelest2000 Offline Shelest2000
      Shelest2000 18 September 2023 18: 09
      These thoughts should be driven into the heads of our generals. Yes, with a boot, so that they stick more firmly in their heads! Otherwise, I remember the statement of one such smart guy at the beginning of the Northern Military District, they say, drones are useless toys for no one and we don’t need that!
      Our generals are always preparing for the last war. Alas...
  2. ChopChop Offline ChopChop
    ChopChop 18 September 2023 14: 11
    about the need to increase the efficiency of Russian aviation, which is used very limitedly due to unsuppressed enemy air defense

    At least someone recognized this fact and isn’t keeping their head in the clouds.
    1. svoroponov Offline svoroponov
      svoroponov (Vyacheslav) 18 September 2023 20: 59
      The Israelis have better electronics. But if such a weapon appears, it will also develop in our country. But it’s not a fact that a small jet engine will improve the situation. On the contrary, this popelats will be easier to detect by its heat signature. And the height of application will not be small. These bombs will not be able to work at low level due to problems with guidance. And do not forget that with the improvement of attack weapons, air defense systems are also improved.
  3. Pembo Offline Pembo
    Pembo 18 September 2023 14: 58
    Yes, it's not harmful to dream. In the meantime, we are using glide bombs against large stationary objects, hopefully with GPS guidance.
  4. Vladimir80 Offline Vladimir80
    Vladimir80 18 September 2023 18: 29
    In the absence of reconnaissance means in sufficient quantities, nothing will be achieved
  5. Vasya 225 Online Vasya 225
    Vasya 225 (Vyacheslav) 18 September 2023 22: 32
    So look who Sh.’s deputy for armaments is. How I started serving 6 years ago, right from lieutenant general and now general of the army. How grown and whose nephew.
  6. Sergei N Offline Sergei N
    Sergei N (Sergey N) 19 September 2023 00: 08
    All this could have long been in service with our Aerospace Forces if not for those sitting in the offices of the RF Ministry of Defense.
    1. Alexey Fokin Offline Alexey Fokin
      Alexey Fokin (Alexey Fokin) 19 September 2023 08: 41
      Soviet “tube” electronics will not be enough for this.
  7. Ostap Ibrahimovic (Ostap-Suleiman-Berta-Maria-Bender Bey) 19 September 2023 01: 13
    The ability to pinpoint bomb targets from a distance of 100-150 kilometers would greatly increase the combat capabilities of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the Northern Military District zone.

    - the combat capabilities of the Russian Aerospace Forces will be increased by the presence of brains in someone sitting very high up. Without their presence, even rational proposals, etc., will be irrelevant and cut down to the ground.
  8. anyname Offline anyname
    anyname (any name) 19 September 2023 04: 02
    In addition to having a tourist and a press secretary in place of the Minister of Defense, another limiting factor is probably the limited number of engineers and designers. In the USSR there were hundreds of them and they could be divided into teams, but now I suppose there are barely a dozen of them. No matter how much they want, they cannot work without sleep.

    But we laughed at the Europeans whose gynecologists occupied the positions of ministers of defense.
  9. Nikolaevich I Online Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I (Vladimir) 19 September 2023 07: 17
    Oh, if only there were mushrooms growing in my mouth!
  10. Vasya 225 Online Vasya 225
    Vasya 225 (Vyacheslav) 19 September 2023 09: 41
    We found an ax in a cutting area. In the USA, these issues were worked out in the late 80s and implemented in the JDAM project. So, the GBU-15 bomb with an engine received the index AGM-130 AB C. We knew everything and could, but then Gorbachev came and the conversion began.
  11. GIS Offline GIS
    GIS (Ildus) 19 September 2023 10: 08
    The ability to pinpoint bomb targets from a distance of 100-150 kilometers would greatly increase the combat capabilities of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the Northern Military District zone

    and the thought immediately came to me about Iran. - “response” to Israel with their own “product” and what is most interesting is how the “iron dome” will digest it

    therefore, it is less noticeable. Thus, it makes it difficult for air defense systems to detect it. In addition, one F-16 aircraft is capable of carrying 16 bombs
    1. Sergey Tokarev Offline Sergey Tokarev
      Sergey Tokarev (Sergey Tokarev) 19 September 2023 10: 27
      ANY air defense can be overloaded. reflective balloons can cause indigestion in the Jewish dome.
  12. kriten Offline kriten
    kriten (Vladimir) 19 September 2023 10: 34
    All these moorings are in order to avoid flying into the air defense coverage area. And we need, first of all, means and methods of destroying enemy air defenses. Then it is easier to suppress artillery and break through the front during the offensive.
    1. JD1979 Offline JD1979
      JD1979 (Dmitriy) 19 September 2023 13: 20
      These, as you put it, paraphernalia can take out any air defense system.
  13. vlad127490 Offline vlad127490
    vlad127490 (Vlad Gor) 19 September 2023 13: 20
    Any weapon is necessary to win, to protect yourself. This is the goal. No one knows what the purpose of the SVO in Ukraine is. The weapon must match the Purpose. 1,5 years of war showed that the liberal capitalist political system. the system and comprador power of the Russian Federation brought a mortal threat to the Russian state. In conditions of a shortage of modern weapons, it is necessary to create devices for gliding bombs, although such devices were made 50 years ago, to use tanks, guns, and shells made in the USSR. NATO and its satellites will not give the Russian Federation the opportunity to defeat Ukraine without the Russian Federation making a political decision. Without a political decision on Ukraine, the war in Ukraine will be endless.
    The Russian Federation needs to issue a Law in which it will be written that the entire territory of Ukraine, within the 1975 borders, is an integral part of Russia. This is a goal and a political decision.
  14. JD1979 Offline JD1979
    JD1979 (Dmitriy) 20 September 2023 00: 33
    What will it give? Nothing! There are a lot of holivars on websites and tons on fans. There are no engines and there won’t be any in the foreseeable future. The speed of development and implementation of new types of weapons in Russia takes a well-deserved first place from the end. Well, meanwhile, the Americans are already working on a new “toy” - they are crossing an SDB and an upper stage from a rocket for Himars/MLRS. And quite soon they will get an interesting and, most importantly, cheap thing (because both SDB and missiles are in production, and there is a decent supply in warehouses) and with a very good range.