Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, announced on Monday that it executed the first guided release of a StormBreaker smart bomb from an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. When the program reaches operational capability later this year, the weapon will be installed to the fighter jet, marking the second time such an event takes place.
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“StormBreaker is the only weapon that enables pilots to hit moving targets during bad weather or if there's dust and smoke in the area,” said Cristy Stagg, StormBreaker program director. “Super Hornet pilots will be able to use poor visibility to their advantage when StormBreaker integration is complete.”
The event took place during a U.S. Navy flight test.StormBreaker safely separated from the jet and was guided from the plane in order to reach its target while in flight.
The weapon features a revolutionary 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. All in all, StormBreaker is far more capable than existing smart bombs.
It gives pilots the capacity to reach moving targets on the battlefield. Its seeker detects, classifies, tracks, and then destroys targets, even in bad weather conditions and at night.
"We call SDB II a game-changer because the weapon doesn't just hit GPS coordinates; it finds and engages targets," said Mike Jarrett, Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice president in a 2018 press release. "SDB II can eliminate a wider range of targets with fewer aircraft, reducing the pilot's time in harm's way."
The first platform to add StormBreaker is The F-15E Eagle and it’s also being integrated on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Raytheon has been developing the weapon since 2010. Who knows where it may add it next.