Source Interesting Engineering

ISTANBUL, Turkey: Raytheon (an RTX company) has been awarded a contract worth $345 million to supply the United States Air Force (USAF) with over 1,500 cutting-edge StormBreaker smart weapons.
The new batch of StormBreakers will be used on the F-15E “Strike Eagle” and F/A-18E/F “Super Hornet,” and testing is underway on all variants of the F-35. StormBreaker weapons have, so far, completed 28 successful test drops in 2023.
Smart munitions for a modern age
“Fielded on two platforms with testing underway for others, StormBreaker has solidified its place as the leading network-enabled weapon across the Department of Defense,” said Paul Ferraro, president of Air Power at Raytheon. “With this contract, we’ll continue to evolve StormBreaker’s production to meet the needs of service members for years to come,” he added.
Other than the USAF, both the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps also plan to use StormBreaker on their fleets of F-35 “Lightning II”. The StormBreaker was declared Early Operational Capability (EOC) on the F/A-18E/F by the Navy in October of 2023.
The StormBreaker, RTX explains, is a smart weapon that provides a significant advantage to operators during combat. It can hit moving targets in some of the most challenging weather conditions. This winged munition is equipped with autonomous detection and classification technology, which enables it to identify moving targets in situations where visibility is poor due to factors such as darkness, bad weather, smoke, or dust caused by helicopters.
“Poor weather and battlefield obscurants continue to endanger warfighters as adversaries rely on these conditions to escape attacks. This has established the requirement for an all-weather solution that enhances warfighters’ capabilities when visibility is limited,” adds RTX.
Development began StormBreaker in 2006 for an MoD-required bomb weighing 250 pounds (113 kg) that can detect and attack mobile targets from a safe distance in any weather conditions. Its first flight was announced on May 1, 2009. Raytheon was awarded a contract in June 2015 to begin low-rate production.
The StormBreaker also has multiple capabilities because of its variety of warheads to choose from. The bomb has “shape charge jets, fragmentation, and blast charge effects” that target various targets such as infantry, structures, armor, and patrolling boats. Raytheon claims it also has an optional smart delayed fuze that can effectively destroy a tank.
The StormBreaker utilizes a tri-mode seeker to locate its targets accurately. This seeker is equipped with an infrared imager and multimeter wave radar, enabling the weapon to seek and identify targets even in challenging weather conditions such as smoke, fog, and heavy rain.
To identify its targets, the weapon can use data from either semi-active laser or GPS-based guidance systems. Additionally, users can choose a semi-autonomous mode, which allows the weapon to classify and prioritize potential targets before attacking them.
Delivering death from a safe distance
Fighter aircraft with StormBreaker can target and destroy stationary and moving objects from 45 miles (72 km). This helps to ensure the safety of the fighter aircraft by avoiding high-risk areas and associated aerial defense systems. Additionally, the weapon has networking capabilities that allow it to be fired and controlled by another platform to complete the mission. Raytheon claims that this feature makes the weapon more efficient and effective.