In an advancement for naval aviation, Raytheon, an RTX business, has introduced its StormBreaker smart weapon to the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. 

This technology, initially fielded on the F-15E and currently undergoing integration testing on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, demonstrates the power of digital solutions in enhancing air dominance.

Leveraging insights gained from its deployment on the F-15E, Raytheon was able to streamline the integration process, reducing the number of required flight tests. This approach saved time and conserved resources, enabling the US Navy to harness StormBreaker’s capabilities sooner.

Paul Ferraro, the president of Air Power at Raytheon, expressed the nature of this technology, stating, “StormBreaker is a prime example of how we are using digital technologies to deliver advanced air dominance weapons, ensuring the continued relevance of fourth-generation aircraft.” 

This year, Raytheon Technologies secured a contract worth approximately $320m for the production and delivery of 1,500 StormBreaker smart weapon systems for the US Air Force. 

The weapon’s features provide aviators with the ability to strike targets in challenging and dynamic scenarios, thereby enhancing their operational capabilities.

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By GlobalData

One of StormBreaker’s standout features is its multimode seeker, which guides the weapon using an imaging infrared camera, millimetre-wave radar, and semi-active laser, in addition to GPS and inertial navigation system guidance. This approach ensures a degree of accuracy and adaptability in operational scenarios. 

Furthermore, StormBreaker’s compact size allows fewer aircraft to address the same number of targets compared to larger weapons requiring multiple jets. It can also travel over 40 miles to engage moving land and maritime targets, thereby reducing the time that aircrews spend in high-risk situations.

The US Air Force declared initial operating capability for StormBreaker on the F-15E Strike Eagle in 2022, marking its successful integration and performance in an operational context. Currently, all three variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are undergoing integration testing with StormBreaker, promising further to expand the reach and effectiveness of this smart weapon.

Boeing announced plans to cease production of the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft by late 2025 after delivering the final jet to the US Navy. However, this production timeline could be extended until 2027 if an international customer places an order.