The Small Diameter Bomb II program reached a major milestone Sept. 23, 2020, when the weapon was approved for F-15E Strike Eagle operational flights.
The approval, from Air Combat Command, makes it possible for the Air Force’s Strike Eagle squadrons to fly with the air-launched precision-guided munition.
“The SDB II StormBreaker is ready for operational use after undergoing extensive development and flight testing,” said Col. Jason Rusco, SDB II program manager and Miniature Munitions Division senior materiel leader. “The fielding milestone is the culmination of years of incredible work conducted by our joint military and industry teams. This capability is unmatched and is a game-changer for national defense.”
The smart weapon features a multi-mode seeker that guides the bomb by infrared, millimeter wave radar and semi-active laser in addition to GPS and inertial navigation system guidance.
Its small size also enables an increased payload per mission requiring fewer aircraft for the same number of targets compared to larger weapons that require multiple aircraft. It can also fly more than 40 miles to strike mobile targets, reducing the amount of time aircrews spend in harm’s way.
“SDB II’s ability to attack moving targets, at range in adverse weather, delivers a significant advantage to our warfighter’s arsenal. Fielding this weapon is a momentous accomplishment for everyone involved,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force Weapons Program Executive Officer.
Units at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., flew a combination of 138 developmental and operational flight tests to help successfully achieve the milestone. The 96th Test Wing’s 40th Flight Test Squadron and the 780th Test Squadron performed the developmental tests. The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Det. 2 and the 53rd Wing’s 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron completed the operational tests.
The program plans to begin fielding on the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet later this year followed by integration on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
SBD II is a joint-interest Air Force and Navy major acquisition program. The Armament Directorate’s Miniature Munitions Division at Eglin serves as the acquisition lead in partnership with Raytheon Missiles and Defense.