A US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet successfully launched a Stormbreaker glide bomb. Stormbreaker is the Pentagon’s most advanced smart bomb to date, capable of seeking out and destroying moving targets and flying in night and adverse weather conditions.
The F/A-18E/F is the second U.S. military warplane launched Stormbreaker without modifying the launch rails, after the F-15E Strike Eagle. The weapon’s small size makes it possible for most of the US fighters and drones can carry Stormbreaker.
Stormbreaker is a glide bomb designed to attack moving targets in all weather conditions. The bomb is capable of gliding up to 45 miles using wings and tail fins that deploy after launch. Stormbreaker then homes in on a target illuminated by a laser, with illumination provided by a second aircraft or troops on the ground.
A millimeter-wave radar seeker allows the bomb to see through clouds, fog, and smoke, while an imaging infrared sensor gives Stormbreaker the ability to distinguish between the target and something that merely looks like a target.
Stormbreaker was developed from the original Small Diameter Bomb, which is too bulky to fit in the internal weapons bays of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Mounting a weapon on the external rails of a stealth fighter will negate the plane’s radar-evading qualities, so such planes must carry all of their ordnance internally. Raytheon took the original weapon concept, slimmed the bomb down, and added the tri-mode seeker.
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