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The US Air Force (USAF) announced on 23 March 2023 it had awarded Raytheon Missiles & Defense a USD 320.28 M contract to produce and deliver 1,500 StormBreaker glide bombs under the weapon’s production Lot 9.

Previously known as the Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) and officially designated the GBU-53/B, StormBreaker is a winged precision-guided munition that can hit moving targets in adverse weather conditions from standoff ranges in excess of 45 miles. The weapon uses GPS/INS to approach the target area but can employ its tri-mode seeker (imaging infrared, millimetre wave radar and semi-active laser) for precision in its terminal phase.

StormBreaker has a multi-effects warhead to address a number of different types of target and weighs just over 200 lb (90.7 kg), meaning that an aircraft like the F-15E Strike Eagle can carry up to 20 of the weapons.

The StormBreaker glide bomb, previously known as the SDB II, has been designed as a versatile all-weather weapon that can address a variety of stationary and moving targets. (Photo: Raytheon Technologies)

StormBreaker is also a fully networked weapon, meaning its targeting data can be updated in flight and that one platform can launch it but hand off control to another to prosecute an attack.

The 23 March award comprises USD 239.652 M in Financial Year 2023 (FY23) procurement funding from the USAF and USD 80.625 M in FY23 procurement funding from the US Navy, with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, acting as the contracting authority.

The work will be performed at Raytheon’s facilities in Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be completed by 30 June 2027.

StormBreaker is already approved for operational use on the F-15E Strike Eagle with testing underway on the F-35B Lightning II and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Raytheon stated in a press release that, between these three platforms, StormBreaker has had “hundreds of successful operational test shots to date”.

Peter Felstead