Navy tests SDB II weapon release from F-35

By Nick Wilson / September 21, 2022 at 3:05 PM

The Navy has completed test launches of the StormBreaker small diameter bomb from an F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

The successful test opens the door for SDB II to begin the weapon capability testing phase and brings it one step closer to integration with the Navy’s F-35 fleet, according to a Monday press release from Raytheon.

During the test, two SDB II weapons were dropped within half an hour of each other, and “successfully released and performed the required flight behaviors.” The releases clocked in at .9 Mach, making them the fastest from an F-35 to date, according to the announcement.

The air-to-surface bomb can strike stationary and mobile targets from over 45 miles away using a combination of GPS, laser and radar technologies for precision guidance. The weapon can operate at night and in adverse weather conditions.

The Air Force established initial operational capability of SDB II on its F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft earlier this year, but the program has faced delays in integrating with the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Navy requested $108 million to procure 481 SDB II units in its fiscal year 2023 budget, after receiving $33.8 million for the program in FY-22.

“The program’s integration roadmap includes further expansion to additional manned and unmanned platforms, including the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet,” Raytheon’s announcement states.