Thanks to a new bomb called “StormBreaker,” the latest high-tech addition to the American arsenal, U.S. forces can conduct full scale precision air-strike attack operations in any weather conditions, day and night. Even a mile-high wall of dust sweeping across the desert won’t save mobile enemy units as they scramble for cover.
As described in a tactics manual published by the U.S. Marine Corps, both good and bad weather is an important factor to consider on the battlefield. “The military unit that is best prepared to operate in these conditions will gain an advantage over its opponent.” As an example, the manual notes how Able Company, using the cover of a snowstorm, “surprised and annihilated” Chinese defenders, “thereby opening a route for the rest of the division.”
StormBreaker’s cutting-edge guidance systems will provide that advantage, in an overwhelming way, against forces on the ground that either can’t or won’t operate because of darkness or adverse weather conditions.
While reduced visibility makes the easiest tasks difficult for the enemy to accomplish, friendly forces can use the cover of fierce storms to mask an offensive operation and still expect pin-point precision targeting accuracy, even against moving targets.
The StormBreaker project was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force and manufactured by Raytheon to offer deployment from fighter planes thousands of feet in the air, penetrating bad weather to “attack moving and stationary targets on the ground,” Fox News reports.
The advantage will be crucial due to the fact that none of our enemies possess the technology. F-15 Strike Eagle fighters are already being fitted with the revolutionary weapon. Also scheduled to battle test the devices are F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and F/A 18E/F Super Hornets.
The official designation of the munition is “Small Diameter Bomb Increment II” or SDB II for short. That is a fittingly descriptive name for a 200 pound bomb that is only seven inches in diameter and 70 inches long. Crews working with them were quick to notice their resemblance to “those fun floating noodle toys found in pools.”
Soon our enemies won’t be having much fun as our new toys float down on their heads. Because of their compact size, a single fighter jet can carry more of them. Sending enough aircraft to “ensure the target is destroyed” will be more economical and also save lives. Less fighters will need to be sent out, putting fewer pilots at risk.
As enemy troops are hidden by bad weather, or pinned down in sandstorms, snow, or heavy rain, StormBreakers can be deployed from up to 40 miles away. The “ultra advanced seeker” built in to the smart bomb’s brain can share targeting data with other StormBreakers, aircraft, ground, and sea forces offering three separate modes of attack.
Millimeter wave radar is what allows the bomb to penetrate bad weather. Imaging infrared “provides enhanced target discrimination.” Best of all, the unit’s semi-active laser technology allows it to track laser-tagged targets identified from overhead or from on the ground.
StormBreaker homes in on moving targets, penetrating clouds and rain with millimeter wave radar, then uses IR below the clouds for “terminal guidance.”
Millimeter wave radar is the same technology being used for self driving cars. Because of its extremely high frequency, it is incredibly accurate. Advances in design have eliminated bulky antennas and work with much smaller components.
Because infrared seekers don’t send out signals like radar does, there isn’t any warning a target is being tracked, making them perfect for a sneak attack. Heat seekers are also extremely deadly. As noted by Wikipedia, “many objects such as people, vehicle engines and aircraft generate and emit heat, and as such, are especially visible in the infrared wavelengths of light compared to objects in the background.”
If the target has been designated ahead of time, by illuminating it with a laser, StormBreaker uses it’s “laser spot tracker to strike accurately.”
GPS coordinates can also be used, allowing StormBreaker to home in on moving targets, not just stationary ones. Utilizing the built-in “two-way datalink communications,” updates can be constantly provided on moving vehicles or personnel.
Observers located anywhere, either ground or air based, can also send mid-flight target updates. StormBreaker uses an on-board GPS/INS system for navigation. As an added safety factor, “the controller can also still abort the mission by updating the bomb using the link.”
The USAF are the first to start arming their fighters to begin the “operational testing phase.” Raytheon techs have been working to modify the F-15E Strike Eagle to use the equipment.
The Navy has also started work on integrating it into some of their fighters. The F/A 18E/F Super Hornets are scheduled to have them installed within 2 years and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will all be equipped after the bugs are worked out, somewhere around 2022.
The U.K.’s Farnborough Airshow is the place where aviation companies and government contractors show off their “latest and greatest in the sky and on the ground.” News that operational testing on StormBreaker has already started shocked all the insiders like a bolt from the blue.
Bad weather isn’t the only thing that creates the kind of adverse battle conditions that StormBreaker is designed to operate in. The battlefield is often obscured by the dust stirred up by landing or low flying helicopters. Ground vehicles kick up dust and explosions make the air thick with dust, smoke, and debris.
This weapon will soon be featured prominently in the war against ISIS. By allowing accurate strikes in any weather or light condition on both stationary and moving targets, it appears to be virtually unstoppable.