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Paveway Guided Bomb Unit

The Paveway GBUs are a family of laser-guided bombs (LGBs). These are in fact a laser guidance kit applicable to conventional unguided bombs. The LGBs home on reflected laser beam energy directed on the target by either the launching aircraft, by a third aircraft or by ground-based troops operating a laser designator.


In active service


Original contractor: Texas Instruments
Manufacturer: Raytheon

Paveway III improvements

Paveway II LGBs are not well suited to release at low level for several reasons. To achieve a worthwhile stand-off range from a low-level launch, the LGB had to be released in a pull-up manoeuver to send the bomb on a lofted trajectory. But when the Paveway II's seeker detected the laser reflection too soon after release, the simple control logic would immediately pop down the bomb, which would then have insufficient range to reach the target.

Because low-level attacks were mandatory in the presence of capable air-defense systems, a new Paveway III GCU (Guidance and Control Unit) had to be developed. It has a microprocessor-based autopilot, which implements proportional control in place of the cruder "bang-bang" (either full deflection of control surfaces or none at all) autopilot of earlier Paveways. This provides for a much smoother and therefore more efficient flight path. Furthermore, the scanning laser seeker has a larger field of view, and the tailfins have been enlarged for higher manoeuverability and aerodynamic efficiency. Paveway III delivery options include high-altitude drops or long-range low-altitude launches using a lofted trajectory.

GPS/INS-enabled Laser Guided Bomb

As laser guidance doesn't work very well in bad weather, and when the illuminating laser is switched off for any reason, guidance is completely lost. To overcome these shortcomings, a GPS-aided inertial add-on package for Paveway LGBs was developed. GPS/INS-enabled LGBs are frequently referred to as EGBUs (E = Enhanced).

The general homing method of EGBUs is to use the GPS/INS unit for mid-course guidance (giving the control logic a whole new set of options for optimum flight paths, and greatly expanding the delivery envelope) and the laser seeker for terminal homing. Should laser designation and/or GPS reception fail, the accuracy is degraded but not completely lost.

GPS/INS enhanced Paveway IIIs are widely used by the U.S. military, however, Paveway II EGBUs have primarily been produced for export. These bombs have already been used in combat by the British Royal Air Force over Afghanistan and Iraq.


April 1965 - First successful drop of an LGB (Laser Guided Bomb)
1968 - First operational use of a laser guided bomb (the kit was known as "BOLT-117" (Bomb, Laser, Terminal Guidance), and was dropped over Vietnam)
1972 - Paveway II program started
1974 - Paveway II guidance kit prototype testing began
1977 - Paveway II guidance kits entered production
1980 - Development contract for a low-level LGB (LLLGB) guidance package awarded to Texas Instruments (labeled Paveway III)
1983 - First Paveway III kits entered service
1987 - GBU-27/B entered service
1999 - Flight tests of GPS/INS-enabled Paveway III LGBs started
2000 - Initial Operational Capability for GPS/INS-enabled Paveway III LGBs

GBU-10 Paveway II

The Guided Bomb Unit-10 (GBU-10) utilizes the 2,000-pound general purpose or penetrating warhead. The operator illuminates a target with a laser designator and then the munition guides to a spot of laser energy reflected from the target. The GBU-10 consists of an MK-84 2,000 pound bomb with an added laser guidance package.


Length (GBU-10E/B): 4.32 meters 14.17 feet
Length (GBU-10J/B): 4.24 meters 13.91 feet
Diameter (GBU-10E/B): 46 centimeters 18.11 inches
Diameter (GBU-10J/B): 37 centimeters 14.57 inches
Finspan (GBU-10E/B): 1.68 meters 5.51 feet
Finspan (GBU-10J/B): 1.68 meters 5.51 feet
Weight (GBU-10E/B): 957 kilograms 2 110 pounds
Weight (GBU-10J/B): 966 kilograms 2 130 pounds
CEP (Circular Error Probable): approximately 6 meters (under optimal conditions) approximately 20 feet (under optimal conditions)
Guidance system: laser
Warhead (GBU-10E/B): Mk 84
Warhead (GBU-10J/B): BLU109/B

GBU-12 Paveway II

The GBU-12/B series covers Paveway II LGBs with 500-pound class warheads. The standard Mk 82 and the BLU-111/B warheads may be used in these bombs.
GBU-12 Paveway II Copyright © MSgt. Dennis L. Carlson


Length (GBU-12B/B): 3.33 meters 10.93 feet
Diameter (GBU-12B/B): 27.3 centimeters 10.75 inches
Finspan (GBU-12B/B): 1.34 meters 4.4 feet
Weight (GBU-12B/B): 275 kilograms 606.2 pounds
CEP (Circular Error Probable): approximately 6 meters (under optimal conditions) approximately 20 feet (under optimal conditions)
Guidance system: laser
Warhead (GBU-12B/B): Mk 82

GBU-16 Paveway II

The GBU-16/B series covers Paveway II LGBs with 1000-pound class warheads. The standard Mk 83 and the BLU-110/B warheads may be used in these bombs.