US Approves $293M SDB II Small Diameter Bomb sale to Norway

The Government of Norway received approval from the State Department on June 28, 2023, for a potential Foreign Military Sale. The sale includes the acquisition of 600 Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB-II) and related equipment, totaling an estimated cost of $293 million.

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US Approves 293M SDB II glide bomb sale to Norway 925   An American A-10C Thunderbolt II with Small-Diameter Bombs during a developmental test flight (Picture source: US DoD)

Under the agreement, Norway has expressed interest in acquiring up to 580 GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bombs-Increment II (SDB-II) All-Up-Rounds (AURs). These will supplement an existing case, which had initially included 20 GBU-53/B SDB-II AURs valued at $18.9 million. The current amendment exceeds the notification thresholds, thus requiring a full notification of the entire case. Consequently, the total number of SDB-II AURs included in the notification is 600.

The package includes munitions support and equipment, software delivery and support, spare parts, consumables, accessories, repair and return support, modifications and maintenance support, transportation support, unclassified publications and technical documentation, personnel training equipment and support, studies and surveys, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other relevant logistical and program support.

The GBU-53/B StormBreaker, also known as the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II), is an air-launched precision-guided glide bomb that has been developed and manufactured by Raytheon Company. The SDB II program is a joint interest initiative between the United States Air Force (USAF) and Navy, with the USAF serving as the lead service. "All Up Round" refers to a missile that is delivered as a fully assembled weapon, with the exception of components that can be quickly attached, such as wings and fins. In this state, the missile is ready for deployment and use without requiring additional major assembly or integration.

The primary objective of the SDB II is to provide the warfighter with a capable weapon system that can engage and destroy mobile targets from a safe distance, even in adverse weather conditions. Development of the bomb began in 2006 with the goal of creating a 250-pound (113 kg) class bomb capable of identifying and striking moving targets with precision.

The bomb has undergone extensive testing and has been integrated onto various aircraft platforms. The threshold aircraft for the USAF is the F-15E Strike Eagle, while the threshold aircraft for the Navy are the F-35B and F-35C variants. Other aircraft, such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-22 Raptor, F-35A Lightning II, B-1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, A-10 Thunderbolt II, MQ-9 Reaper, and AC-130 gunship, are also being considered for SDB II integration.

The SDB II features multiple modes of target acquisition, including millimeter-wave radar, infrared homing using an uncooled imaging seeker, and semi-active laser homing. These modes allow the bomb to effectively track and engage various types of targets. The weapon can fuse information from its sensors to classify targets and prioritize specific types of targets when operated in semi-autonomous mode.

The bomb's guidance system utilizes GPS/INS to guide itself into the general vicinity of a moving target during the initial search phase. Course correction updates can be provided using a Link 16 over UHF data link. The SDB II is equipped with a shaped charge warhead that has both blast and fragmentation effects, making it effective against a range of targets including infantry, armored vehicles, unhardened structures, and patrol craft-sized boats.

In terms of deployment, the SDB II is designed to be compatible with various munitions carriage systems, such as the BRU-61 (Bomb Rack Unit) miniature munitions carriage and the CNU-660/E (Container Miscellaneous Unit) carriage system. It integrates with the Common Munitions Bit and Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE) and the Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) for weapon reprogramming and mission planning purposes.

The SDB II program has achieved significant milestones, including Milestone C approval in 2015, enabling production and deployment with the F-15E Strike Eagle. Raytheon was awarded a contract for the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot of SDB IIs. The bomb has since been approved for operational use onboard the F-15E in September 2020.