Raytheon comes to Farnborough hunting for new export orders for the StormBreaker bomb, but the timing of deliveries will depend on pending decisions by the US government on weapons integration upgrades for the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter.
The F-35 programme is still reshuffling a package of upgrades planned for the continuous capability, development and demonstration (C2D2) phase, which was formerly known as Block 4 follow-on modernisation.
Integrating the StormBreaker — GBU-53/B small diameter bomb II — is still included in the C2D2 integration, but the “dust hasn’t settled yet on exactly” when, Raytheon officials say.
In the queue are several F-35 operators planning to integrate the StormBreaker before clearing the aircraft for operational service. Last year, for example, the State Department approved a potential StormBreaker sale to Australia. Meanwhile, the USN has resequenced the timing of StormBreaker integration, moving the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet ahead of the F-35C, Raytheon says.
The US Air Force expects to complete a recently launched operational assessment of the GBU-53/B on the Boeing F-15E in about a year, clearing the weapon to enter service about a decade after Raytheon entered development.
The 93kg (204lb) weapon is designed with the unique ability to hit a moving target in any weather. In clear weather, the StormBreaker can use an infrared camera or semi-active laser to continuing tracking a moving target. If the path to the target is obscured by weather, smoke or dust, the weapon can switch to a millimetre wave radar. All three sensors share a common radome, one of the most advanced components on the weapon.
“Operational testing is off to a good start and production deliveries are ahead of schedule,” says Raytheon programme director Cristy Stagg. “That’s good news as far as being able to deliver to the weapon.”