The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon Technologies a $320 million contract to produce and deliver 1500 StormBreaker® smart weapons, which are air-to-surface, network enabled weapons that can engage moving targets in all weather conditions using its multi-effects warhead and tri-mode seeker. The GBU-53/B StormBreaker, previously known as the Small Diameter Bomb II, is an American air-launched, precision-guided glide bomb. StormBreaker is fielded on the F-15E Strike Eagle with testing underway on the F-35B and F/A-18; between the three platforms, StormBreaker has had hundreds of successful operational test shots to date.
“Having StormBreaker in the warfighter’s arsenal provides unprecedented capability against moving targets, regardless of conditions,” said Paul Ferraro, president of Air Power at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “It also expands our production line and reinforces our commitment of ensuring the warfighter has the next-level munitions they need to safely and successfully accomplish the mission.”
Development was started in 2006 for a 250 pounds (113 kg) class bomb that can identify and strike mobile targets from standoff distances in all weather conditions. It is integrated on the F-15E Strike Eagle and will be integregated into the F/A-18 Hornet and F-35 Lightning fighters. Its first flight was announced on May 1, 2009. A contract to start low rate initial production was awarded to Raytheon in June 2015. The bomb is developed and manufactured by Raytheon. A Boeing/Lockheed Martin team attempted to develop it but lost in a U.S. Air Force competition.
The U.S. Air Force plans to use the bomb on the F-15E Strike Eagles as a no-drive zone enforcement weapon. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps plan to use it on their versions of the F-35 Lightning II. In October 2020, the Air Force approved the weapon for operational flight on the F-15E. The U.S. Navy plans to first integrate the SDB II onto their F/A-18 Super Hornet jets, then onto the F-35B and C fighters. With the F-35 program experiencing continued delays from a naval perspective, the U.S. Navy has decided to change their integration strategy by using the L3Harris BRU-55 smart multiple carriage racks on F/A-18E/F to store and fire the SDB II for the U.S. Navy.