The US Air Force (USAF) is expected to declare an initial operating capability (IOC) with the Raytheon Missile Systems GBU-53/B StormBreaker glide munition on the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle multirole combat aircraft in the first half of this year, following compliance with a Required Assets Available (RAA) milestone, which is anticipated in the next few weeks.
The StormBreaker RAA is the pre-IOC benchmark capability to arm 12 USAF F-15Es with two, fully-loaded (four weapons) BRU-61/A carriage systems each for 1.5 sorties (144 assets total).
Optimised to address moving battlefield targets, StormBreaker - formerly designated 'Small Diameter Bomb II' - is a 250 lb-class, air-launched unpowered glide weapon system furnished with a unique tri-mode seeker, which combines millimetre wave (MMW) radar, imaging infrared (IIR), and semi-active laser (SAL) sensors with a GPS/inertial navigation system (INS) autopilot (the provider for which is undisclosed) for precision accuracy in adverse weather conditions. The seeker's optical dome is protected by a clamshell shroud, which is jettisoned before the seeker is activated. A Rockwell Collins TacNet bi-directional dual-band datalink enables Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) connectivity with aircraft and an ultra-high frequency (UHF) link with a ground designator.
Furnished with a deployable wing assembly to achieve stand-off engagement ranges in excess of 70 km, StormBreaker incorporates a multifunction warhead (blast, fragmentation, and shaped charge jet) designed to defeat armoured and non-armoured targets; a redesign of the warhead was performed during the development cycle to provide the capability to disable or defeat main battle tanks. The warhead fuze can be set to initiate on impact, at a pre-set height above the intended target, or in a delayed mode. The munition operates in three principal attack modes: normal attack (NA), laser-illuminated attack (LIA), and co-ordinate attack (CA).
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to Jane's unrivalled data and insight, learn more about our subscription options at janes.com/products