Four US F-15E fighters drop the GBU-53/B super-smart bomb

WASHINGTON – In November this year, the US Air Force successfully tested the GBU-53/B StormBreaker smart bomb, manufactured by Raytheon Technologies, learned, citing a press release from the company.

F-35 tested ammunition with radar, infrared, and a semi-active laser
Photo credit: Raytheon

The test was performed by four F-15E Strike Eagles fighters at the Utah test and training ground. The four fighters dropped four bombs that hit four moving vehicles. The test is key, according to the company, as the development of the GBU-53/B StormBreaker was delayed by just over a year after a problem in the production of a key component of the bomb was discovered in 2019.

So far, the F-15E Strike Eagles are the only approved U.S. Air Force fighter jets to drop these bombs, but analysts and experts at Raytheon Technologies, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter are expected also will be armed with them.

The F-35 has already conducted a GBU-53/B StormBreaker test also at the end of 2021, which aimed to test the communication link between the weapon and a secondary aircraft.

Why is the GBU-53/B a super-smart bomb?

The GBU-53/B StormBreaker has several key functionalities integrated that make the bomb useful to the operator and dangerous to the enemy. StormBreaker can change course and hit a target set by the operator after the bomb is dropped. This bomb features several types of targeting – active radar targeting, infrared targeting, semi-active laser targeting, and GPS inertial targeting.

Its size is not large, which allows fighter jets to carry more of them. For example, the F-15E Strike Eagles can be armed with 28 bombs, each 69 inches long [175 cm.], 7 inches in diameter [17.7 cm.], and a weight of 204 pounds [93 kg.].

The GBU-53/B StormBreaker warhead weighs 105 pounds [48 kg.], and the bomb can hit stationary targets at 69 miles [111 km.] and moving targets at 45 miles [72 km.]. It is the combined use of bomb targeting that gives the GBU-53/B StormBreaker the advantage of hitting both stationary and moving targets accurately.

Last but not least, the GBU-53/B StormBreaker has a stand-alone mode, ie. the bomb can be connected to the aircraft’s software, which allows it to be even more effective when properly coordinating and planning a mission during an air operation.

What does Raytheon Technologies say?

As expected, Raytheon Technologies is thrilled with the successful test with the four fighters and the four bombs, especially after the delay in the development of the bomb. Alison Howlett, StormBreaker’s program director for intelligent weapons at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, this bomb is precise, flexible, and enables the US Air Force to deal with a large number of threats.

“The multi-effects warhead separates this air-to-surface weapon from its predecessor and other ammunition in its class,” Howlett said.

However, Howlett pointed out another advantage of the GBU-53/B StormBreaker – the ability to launch the bomb from one weapon system, but then transfer control of the bomb to another system. It’s no secret that the US military is trying to link the five domains [land, sea, air, space, and information], and this advantage of StormBreaker is a step forward.

“It’s inherent with this weapon and critical going into a more connected – JADC2 [Joint All Domain Command and Control] – battlespace environment,” Howlett said.


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