FARNBOROUGH, England — The Norwegian Ministry of Defence confirmed this week it will buy Raytheon Technologies’ StormBreaker smart bomb from the U.S. Air Force.
The country has already begun to integrate the network-enabled munition on its F-35 fleet, and the head of Norway’s F-35 project office said in a July 18 statement the weapon will play an important role in helping the country begin initial operations for its Joint Strike Fighter fleet.
“The weapon will bring significant capability against stationary and moving targets at stand-off ranges, further enhancing the Norwegian Air Force’s ability to maintain national and regional security alongside our allies,” Brig. Gen. Sigurd Fongen said.
Paul Ferraro, president of air power at Raytheon, told C4ISRNET in a July 19 interview at the Farnborough Airshow the company doesn’t know how many Stormbreakers Norway will buy. He said Raytheon is on contract to produce about 1,100 rounds of the weapon a year for domestic and international customers and has the capacity to make more.
Stormbreaker is certified and fielded on the F-15E, and Raytheon expects to complete that process for the Navy’s F/A-18 later this year. The company is making progress integrating the weapon on all three variants of the F-35, and Ferraro said that work should be finished for the A and B models in early 2023 and the C model later that year.
He said the company has completed multiple tests of Stormbreaker on the F-35, and they’re “going very well.”
Stormbreaker was designed specifically to be “space-efficient” for the F-35′s bomb bay. The jet can carry four of the weapons in each of its bays with room for other munitions. The weapon can autonomously detect and define targets in low-visibility conditions, including adverse weather, smoke or dust.
The recent progress comes after delays that stalled the program for about a year. A technical issue in 2019 with one of Stormbreaker’s key components paused production; after a redesign and retrofit of about 600 already-delivered bombs, the Air Force restarted fielding in September 2020.