A series of flight tests for the Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II), conducted by Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force, resulted in direct hits on stationary land targets. The successful tests will likely further move the SDB II program from the engineering/manufacturing/development phase to low-rate initial production.
Upgraded electronics for the SDB II center around Raytheon’s tri-mode seeker, which fuses millimeter-wave radar, uncooled infrared imaging, and digital semi-active laser sensors on a single gimbal. The seeker seamlessly shares targeting information between all three modes, which enables weapons to engage fixed, relocatable, or moving targets at any time during the day and in adverse weather conditions.
For example, the tri-mode seeker can peer through storm clouds or battlefield dust and debris to engage fixed or moving targets. Therefore, a warfighter and the weapon will remain unaffected by changing conditions in the ground or in the air. The potential of the SDB II led to its validation by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), which invested more than $700 million in the program.
As of now, SDB II can hit targets from a range of more than 40 nautical miles. Its warhead can destroy armored targets, yet minimize collateral damage due to a small explosive footprint. In addition, the SDB II’s accuracy allows warfighters to change targets through a datalink that passes in-flight updates to the weapon.