TUCSON, Ariz. — Raytheon’s Missiles & Defense business recently carried out the first guided release of a GBU-53/B StormBreaker smart weapon from an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which will become the second fighter to utilize the weapon when the program reaches initial operational capability later this year, the company said.
“StormBreaker is the only weapon that enables pilots to hit moving targets during bad weather or if dust and smoke are in the area,” said Cristy Stagg, the StormBreaker program director for Raytheon. “Super Hornet pilots will be able to use poor visibility to their advantage when StormBreaker integration is complete.”
During the U.S. Navy flight test, StormBreaker safely separated from the fighter and received guidance data from the plane, enabling it to be directed to its target while in flight.
StormBreaker, formerly known as Small-Diameter Bomb II, features a tri-mode seeker that uses imaging infrared and millimeter wave radar in its normal mode. The weapon can also deploy its semi-active laser or GPS guidance to hit targets.
The smart weapon gives operators the ability in combat to hit moving targets in some of the worst weather conditions. The winged munition autonomously detects and classifies moving targets in poor visibility situations caused by darkness, bad weather, smoke or dust kicked up by helicopters.
The weapon’s seeker works in three modes:
- Millimeter wave radar detects and tracks targets through weather.
- Imaging infrared provides enhanced target discrimination.
- Semi-active laser enables the weapon to track an airborne laser designator or one on the ground.
The tri-mode seeker shares targeting information among all three modes, enabling StormBreaker to engage fixed or moving targets at any time of day and in all weather conditions.
StormBreaker’s small size enables the use of fewer aircraft to take out the same number of targets as larger weapons that require multiple jets. The weapon can also fly more than 45 miles to strike mobile targets, reducing the amount of time that aircrews spend in harm’s way.
The F-15E Eagle is the first platform to add StormBreaker; it’s also being integrated on the F-35 joint strike fighter.