Raytheon is planning to compete with MBDA for the UK’s Spear Capability 3 programme for the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

The company intends to offer its GBU-53/B small diameter bomb II (SDB II) for the UK’s Spear (selective precision effects at range) capability 3 programme, Flightglobal reports.

The Spear Capability 3 project involves the development of an 80kg network-centric standoff weapon to destroy an array of mobile and static targets with low collateral damage.

The weapon is expected to be optimised for internal carriage on the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 joint strike fighter.

"The Spear Capability 3 project involves the development of an 80kg standoff weapon to destroy mobile and static targets."

Raytheon air warfare systems vice-president Mike Jarrett said: "We anticipate that SDB II will absolutely be a viable capability for that requirement, and expect to put forward a proposal."

Manufactured at Raytheon’s automated tri-mode seeker factory in US, SDB II is an air-launched precision-strike weapon designed to destroy armoured targets from stand-off ranges in adverse weather conditions.

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SDB II’s seeker operates in three modes, including millimeter-wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared and semiactive laser. It can peer through storm clouds or battlefield dust and debris for engagement with fixed or moving targets.

The bomb is being developed under a five-year engineering and manufacturing development phase contract awarded by the US Air Force (USAF) in August 2010.

"Flight testing is progressing nicely. We have had a number of successful firings where we have prosecuted targets."

"We’re making great progress towards a system verification review in the coming months, and anticipate a ‘Milestone C’ decision before the end of the year," Jarrett added.

The decision is expected to clear the weapon to enter low-rate initial production for USAF.

Deliveries to foreign buyers are likely to commence in 2017.

Defence Technology