In what is a major development milestone, the US Navy has now cleared its frontline F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet to carry and deliver the Raytheon GBU-53/B StormBreaker – formally known as the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II) – operationally.
The 250lb air-launched, precision-guided glide bomb achieved Early Operational Capability (EOC) with the Super Hornet in October. It is the first naval aircraft to be cleared to employ and deliver the StormBreaker weapon, which provides the multi-role fighter with the capability to prosecute stand-off attacks fixed and moving targets in adverse weather and in dynamic scenarios.
The glide weapon has a range of nearly 112km (70 miles) against fixed targets and 72km (45 miles) against moving targets. The GBU-53/B will undergo two additional operational test events before achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2024.
The StormBreaker features a tri-mode seeker that employs infrared and millimetre wave radar to see through fog, smoke and rain. Additionally, it can receive updated target coordinates mid-flight via two-way datalink communications, which permits airborne or ground controllers to send in-flight target updates to the weapon. The SDB II (now GBU-53/B StormBreaker) was initially fielded on USAF F-15E Strike Eagles but will also be compatible with the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II family.