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Raytheon completes final reviews of SDB II ahead of USAF LRIP decision

Raytheon has carried out three final programme reviews of its Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) II ahead of a “milestone C” decision on production that the US Air Force is expected to make in May.

Raytheon completed a functional configuration audit on the SDB II in March and early April, along with a production readiness review and a systems verification review (SVR), in the lead up to the USAF’s decision, which would pave the way for low rate initial production (LRIP) of the weapon in 2015.

The functional configuration audit took place at Raytheon Missile Systems’ Tucson facility and assessed the SDB II’s functionality, the company says. The trials also verified through “rigorous testing” and documentation that the precision-guided weapon is in compliance with the approved design.

The production readiness review, meanwhile, proved that the current design of the weapon is ready for production. The SVR was a product and process assessment to determine that SDB II is ready for LRIP.

Once a decision is made SDB II will enter production and a “government confidence testing period”. Operational testing will begin in 2016.

“Raytheon has fully tested SDB II and verified that we meet or exceed the requirements necessary for a Lot 1 production decision laid out in the specifications provided by the US government,” says Jim Sweetman, SDB II programme director for Raytheon Missile Systems.

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The USAF and Raytheon announced in February that they had conducted live fire flight tests of the weapon from the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle.

Two successful tests firing against moving targets took place – one in September 2014 and one in early February – at White Sands missile test range in New Mexico, which qualified the weapon for the USAF’s milestone C decision.

The F-15E deploys SDB II from its BRU-61/A four-weapon carriage system, which allows the aircraft to carry seven lots of four of the weapon.

The SDB II incorporates a tri-mode seeker comprising millimetre-wave radar and infrared and laser-guidance sensors. This, in addition to the GPS and inertial navigation elements, achieves precision guidance. The weapon also includes a multifunction warhead designed to counter hard and soft targets.

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