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Capabilities of the Paveway IV Bombs Britain is Allegedly Planning to Supply Ukraine

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Paveway IV smart bomb / Photo credit: Royal Air Force of the UK
Paveway IV smart bomb / Photo credit: Royal Air Force of the UK

The Paveway IV is a high-precision aerial bomb that is made from the regular 500-pound Mark 82, but there are more questions than answers about this transfer

Media are reporting news that Ukraine is to receive Paveway IV smart bombs from the United Kingdom. The source of this information is the X social page of Jonathan Beale, an author at BBC writing on matters of defense.

Read more: ​What are the 1,600 Air Defense and Strike Missiles UK is Giving to Ukraine

According to his message, Paveway IV bombs will be included in the largest-to-date £500 million military aid package announced by the British government earlier on April 23. Though worth noting, the official memo from the government mentioned various equipment like strike missiles but no bombs of any kind.

Paveway IV under wing / Defense Express / About Paveway IV Bombs Britain is Allegedly Planning to Supply Ukraine
Paveway IV under wing / Photo credits: RTX

Another questionable aspect to this statement is whether the Ukrainian Air Force actually needs them. Essentially, Paveway IV is similar to JDAM in that both are basically kits attached to ordinary free-falling bombs to turn them into high-precision weapons. In the case of Paveway IV, the source material is the Mark 82 bomb, weight: 531 pounds / 241 kilogram.

The kit introduces combined satellite and semi-active laser guidance and a new detonation mode — air burst — in addition to the impact and delayed impact triggers.

Paveway IV is a development of the British branch of Raytheon (now known as RTX). The company's offer won against JDAM during the selection conducted by the UK Ministry of Defense and was adopted by the British military in 2008. Only the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia have these bombs in operation.

Paveway IV next to a Eurofighter Typhoon / Defense Express / About Paveway IV Bombs Britain is Allegedly Planning to Supply Ukraine
Paveway IV next to a Eurofighter Typhoon / Photo credit: Royal Air Force of the UK

Paveway IV is integrated into the arsenal of Tornado, Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 multirole combat aircraft, although an adaptation of any other fighter to use it should not pose any problem.

What makes Paveway IV different from the American JDAM-ER and French AASM Hammer developments of similar design is the fact it's not a stand-off weapon, i.e. it cannot be launched at the target from afar but requires the aircraft to approach and drop the bomb.

USAF F-35 deploys a Paveway IV bomb / Defense Express / About Paveway IV Bombs Britain is Allegedly Planning to Supply Ukraine
USAF F-35 deploys a Paveway IV bomb / Photo credits: RTX, U.S. Air Force

For this reason, the idea to provide this weapon now in its current condition would be pointless as it cannot be reliably used on the Ukrainian battlefield, saturated with air defenses on both sides. That said, if the bomb was upgraded, for example, with an addition of a rocket engine like in AASM Hammer or wings like in JDAM-ER, the option would be viable.

After all, British engineers have previously demonstrated flexibility and even created new devices out of available assets. One instance is the special mobile launcher for AIM-132 ASRAAM air-to-air missiles to enable their start from the ground, or when air-launched Brimstones were fired firstly from improvised, then from special Wolfram launch vehicles.

Read more: ​The UK Announces Largest-Ever Military Aid Package for Ukraine