TechRevolution in warfare: the power and reach of the StormBreaker bomb you've never heard of

Revolution in warfare: the power and reach of the StormBreaker bomb you've never heard of

Visualization of the GBU-53/B StormBreaker bomb attack
Visualization of the GBU-53/B StormBreaker bomb attack
Images source: © Licensor

7:46 AM EST, December 31, 2023

The U.S. Department of Defense recently revised a contract signed with the Raytheon conglomerate, the makers of the GBU-53/B Stormbreaker. This revision covers the production of the weapon's tenth batch.

In addition to delivering to the U.S. Air Force, more units of this innovative weapon will also be sent to countries, including Finland, Germany, Norway, and Italy, with the delivery expected to be concluded by 2028.

The exact number of bombs ordered remains undisclosed. However, a hint lies in the value of the new contract, which is $334.6 million. The previous agreement signed in March 2023, valued at $320 million, covered 1,500 bombs. But what makes the GBU-53/B Stormbreaker so unique?

A bomb with autonomous target-tracking

Originally known as the Small Diameter Bomb II, the GBU-53/B StormBreaker is a gliding-guided bomb developed by the Raytheon group. It stands out from previous guided bombs because it can locate and destroy moving targets independently.

In its initial flight phase, the GBU-53/B StormBreaker uses satellite or inertial navigation — if the satellite is disrupted — to locate its target. It can receive course corrections during flight, and just before impact, it seeks out its target using its radar, infrared sensor, and laser-based target illumination.

The bomb weighs less than 220 lbs, with the warhead accounting for 106 lbs. It can be dropped up to 68 miles from a target with deployable aerodynamic surfaces. However, its range decreases when targeting moving objects.

Golden Horde - facilitating bomb-to-bomb communication

This type of bomb was also utilized in the Golden Horde program, facilitating communication among bombs in flight. This allows them to share target information or synchronize attacks for simultaneous target engagement.

The GBU-53/B StormBreaker, which entered service in 2020, is integrated with aircraft like the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, and F-15E — the latter can carry up to 28 StormBreakers. Efforts to incorporate this weapon with other aircraft, such as the F/A-18E/F, and certain drones, are ongoing.

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