The US Air Force has awarded a contract to Raytheon to develop a weapon system for the small diameter bomb (SDB) increment II programme.

Under the $450m contract, Raytheon will begin the engineering manufacturing development of GBU-53/B SDB II and is expected to deliver the weapon system in 2013.

An air-launched, precision-strike stand-off weapon, the SDB II will enable the warfighter to destroy moving and fixed targets in adverse weather conditions.

The GBU-53/B weapon can be integrated on all required aircraft and will meet the load-out requirements for all versions of the F-35 joint strike fighter’s internal weapon bays.

It will be equipped with an improved seeker, which will feature three modes of operation such as millimeter-wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared and semiactive laser.

The reliability of GBU/53-B seeker has been flight tested when it flew 26 missions in 21 days without a single hardware failure.