StormBreaker makes Super Hornet test debut

Raytheon Missiles and Defense, alongside the US Navy, has completed the first guided release of its GBU-53/B StormBreaker air-launched, precision-guided glide bomb from a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

The recent flight test was announced by Raytheon on June 15 and marks the passing of a major milestone in the development programme. The F/A-18E/F will become the second fighter aircraft to employ the StormBreaker munition when it achieves initial operational capability (IOC) later this year.

During the flight test, which was led by the US Navy, the munition safely separated from the Super Hornet and successfully received guidance data from the aircraft before being directed to its target whilst in flight.

GBU-53B StormBreaker [Raytheon]
The GBU-58/B StormBreaker precision-guided glide bomb will be integrated onto a number of US military aircraft, including the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 Lightning II family. Raytheon

According to the company, StormBreaker employs a unique tri-mode seeker, which “shares targeting information among all three modes, enabling [the munition] to engage fixed or moving targets at any time of day and in all weather conditions.” Its three modes comprise a millimetre wave radar, imaging infrared and a semi-active laser, which enables the munition to detect and engage targets in any weather condition and when visibility is low.

Cristy Stagg, StormBreaker programme director at Raytheon, 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… Super Hornet pilots will be able to use poor visibility to their advantage when StormBreaker integration is complete.”

StormBreaker has already been developed and integrated onto the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle fleet, which has fielded the capability since April 2018. The munition will also be developed and integrated for use by all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter family.