Raytheon [RTN] has completed testing of tri-mode seeker that will be installed on the Air Force’s Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) and is designed to track and hit moving targets in all weather conditions, the company said.
Raytheon conducted the tests in November by loading the seeker on a UH-60 helicopter to simulate the flight path the bomb would take in route to a target. The tests showed the system capable of tracking and leading the bomb to its moving target, Tom White, Raytheon’s program director for the SDB II, said.
The Air Force awarded Raytheon a $451 million engineering and manufacturing development contract (EMD) in August 2010, selecting the firm over a team formed by Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT], White said. The EMD contract covers development of about 300 of the bombs, White said.
The tri-mode seeker uses uncooled imaging infrared (IIR) and millimeter-wave (MMW) radar modes to acquire, track and guide bombs at varying distances, angles and altitudes to moving targets.
The SDB II, designated the GBU-53, is a follow-on to the Boeing-built SDB I, which was designed to hit stationary targets using global positioning coordinates. The newest SDB allows warfighters to alter the bomb’s target location in flight, White said.
The SDB II closes “one of the few remaining gaps in the warfighter’s capability to engage the enemy,” White said in an interview.
The SDB II is intended to be carried by the Air Force’s F15E, the Marine Corps’ F-35B variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, and the Navy F-35C variant, White said. The bomb could eventually be used on the Air Force’s F-35A because of similarities with the F-35C, White said.
Raytheon plans to conduct drop tests of the weapon from F-15Es in 2012 with production anticipated to begin in late 2013. Initial operational capability for the SDM II on the F-15Es is scheduled for late 2015 and 2016, White said.