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The US Navy is ready to deploy Raytheon’s innovative GBU-53/B “StormBreaker” air-to-surface smart bomb for its F/A-18 Super Hornets.
Previously called the “Small Diameter Bomb Increment II” (SDB-II), it is an all-weather air-to-ground munition that features a unique tri-mode seeker consisting of an electro-optic sensor, semi-active laser, and millimeter-wave radar to track moving land and sea targets, with a range of up to 64 km.
Tyler Alt, the Navy’s program manager for SDB-II stated: “This weapon will give our warfighters a much-needed capability and provide the basis for future network-enabled weapons.” Raytheon’s new SDB-II will reportedly replace Boeing’s older GBU-39 SDB munition, the difference lies in how they identify the target location.
The unprecedented capabilities of the SDB-II let aviators strike targets in difficult and dynamic scenarios, according to the president of Air Power at Raytheon Paul Ferraro, who stated: “‘StormBreaker’ is a prime example of how we are using digital technologies to deliver advanced air dominance weapons, ensuring the continued relevance of fourth-generation aircraft.”
According to Interesting Engineering, “StormBreaker” uses an imaging infrared camera, millimeter-wave radar, and semi-active laser, in addition to or with GPS and inertial navigation system guidance. Additionally, its small size allows fewer aircraft to address the same number of targets compared to larger weapons that require multiple jets. The SDB-II also has an impressive range and can receive updated target coordinates even after the bomb is released via a two-way data link.
Furthermore, the munition has additional fuzing, energetics, and explosive options. For example, the integration of new explosive materials and warhead components is what enables the weapon to kill tanks.
All three variants of the F-35 are currently being integrated with the “StormBreaker” bomb, with plans set to add the weapon to 4th-generation fighter payloads soon.