New “Stormbreaker” guided bomb of The U.S. military’s has entered operational testing and could be ready for service in the next year. The new bomb will allow combat jets to strike moving targets on the ground using sensors capable of seeing through bad weather.
In 2005 a new bomb was entered U.S. military service: the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). The SDB weighs 285 pounds and is just 5.9 feet long and is equipped with glide fins and a GPS guidance system, giving it the ability to glide up to 46 miles to target and strike within 5-10 yards of the aiming point.
The relatively small size allows the F-15E Strike Eagle, for example, to carry twelve of the bombs at once. Once an aircrew assigns GPS targeting coordinates to the individual bombs they can release all twelve bombs simultaneously in one mass drop. The mass drop, coupled with the glide delivery system allows bombers to minimize their exposure to enemy air defense fire.
A new version of the Small Diameter Bomb, known as the GBU-53 Stormbreaker, adds two new guidance systems to the GBU-39. While the older bomb could only strike fixed targets using GPS coordinates, the new bomb can actually chase moving targets thanks to a semi-active laser and millimetric wave radar seekers.
Millimeter wave radar is particularly good at detecting targets through fine particles, such as water droplets in fog or tiny bits of burning debris in smoke.
According to defense contractor Raytheon, Stormbreaker has passed its Operational Test Review and could enter service as soon as early next year. The F-15E is the first aircraft scheduled to carry the bomb, with the F-35 set to carry it in 2022.