By Marina Malenic

The Air Force Miniature Munitions Support Group at Eglin AFB, Fla., has awarded Raytheon [RTN] a $450.8 million contract to build Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) under increment II of that program over a bid from a Boeing [BA]-Lockheed Martin [LMT] team.

SDB II is a joint Air Force and Navy program. The weapon is a precision-strike standoff munition designed to defeat moving and fixed targets in adverse weather conditions.

Air Force officials were planning as late as last year to issue a “cost type” contract with incentives. They later revised the strategy because the technology was mature enough for the issuance of a fixed-price incentive-fee contract to the winner (Defense Daily, Dec. 18, 2009).

Raytheon and the Boeing-Lockheed Martin team submitted SDB II proposals late last year. Both teams had been working under 24-month, $150 million development contracts and demonstrating their key technologies along the way.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the first-generation SDB, which began deliveries in 2006. When first conceived, the SDB II program was supposed to be satisfied through a sole-source follow-on contract with Boeing. However, improper contracting activities by Darleen Druyun, a former senior Air Force official who later worked for the company, caused the service to open a competition.

In the new competition, the contractors had been asked to maintain the airframe and weight of the original Boeing-manufactured SDB.

Boeing officials expressed disappointment with this week’s decision.

“Given Boeing’s successful track record with SDB I and [the Joint Direct Attack Munition] JDAM, we are naturally very disappointed by this loss,” said Debra Rub, vice president, Boeing Weapons.

The SDB II contract calls for Raytheon’s GBU-53/B to begin engineering and manufacturing development, with delivery expected to begin in 2013, the company said in a statement released yesterday.

“A versatile weapon that is simple to employ, Raytheon’s GBU-53/B can be integrated on all required aircraft and fully meets the load-out requirements for…the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s internal weapon bays,” said Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president.

The F-15E is the threshold platform for integration. The SDB II is expected to be operational first on the F-15E in 2015 and on the F-35 in 2017. Integration into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter weapons bay is expected to be a significant area of risk, Air Force officials have said (Defense Daily, Dec. 18, 2009).

As required by the Pentagon, the GBU-53/B incorporates a seeker that features three modes of operation: millimeter-wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared and semiactive laser. According to Lawrence, Raytheon was able to keep the cost of its solution low by building an uncooled seeker into the weapon.

“Raytheon’s innovative use of an uncooled IIR seeker met all the warfighter’s requirements and reduced the weapon’s total life-cycle cost and logistics footprint,” he said.