Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy are integrating the new “GBU-53/B StormBreaker” precision-guided glide bomb on the Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet warplanes.
Raytheon completed development and integration of the 110 kg StormBreaker all-weather bomb on the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle in April 2018. Initial operating capability for StormBreaker on the F-35 is expected by 2022, and for the F/A 18E/F Super Hornet by 2020.
Formerly designated the Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II), this guided missile with integrated wings can seek out targets in bad weather, day or night, and while these targets are on the move.
Poor weather and battlefield obscurants such as dust and smoke continue to endanger U.S. soldiers since their foes rely on these conditions to escape attacks. This resulted in the requirement for an all-weather solution — StormBreaker — that enhances the warfighter’s capabilities when visibility is limited.
StormBreaker can fly more than 70 kilometers in attacking mobile targets, thereby reducing the amount of time U.S. aircrews’ are exposed to danger. Its small size enables the use of fewer aircraft to attack the same number of targets compared to larger weapons that required multiple jets.
StormBreaker’s small size has larger implications for its users since it means the U.S. Air Force will need to conduct fewer attacks and less time spent flying dangerous missions.
Its seeker works in three modes to provide maximum operational flexibility: a millimeter wave radar detects and tracks targets in all weather; imaging infrared for enhanced target discrimination and a semi-active laser that enables the glide bomb to track an airborne laser designator or one on the ground.
This powerful, integrated seeker shares targeting information among all three modes. This allows StormBreaker to engage fixed or moving targets at any time of day and in all kinds of weather. StormBreaker’s tri-mode seeker can also see through battlefield dust and debris, giving the soldier a capability unaffected by conditions on the ground or in the air.
Weighing just 129 kg, StormBreaker carries a blast fragmentation warhead weighing 93 kg. It is incredibly accurate, and has a circular error probability (CEP) of only one meter.
An F-15E Strike Eagle can carry 28 StormBreakers utilizing seven BRU-61/A suspension units. Each unit can carry four bombs. Eight StormBreakers plus two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles can be loaded in the weapons bay of the F-22 Raptor and the F-35.
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