Raytheon will sign the production contract for Lot 1 of its Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB-II) this month. It covers a mere 144 copies of the tri-mode, all-weather, moving-target missile from an anticipated total order of 17,000 rounds – but it is an important step on what the company hopes will become a key weapon globally.

“We start exporting SDB-II in Lot 4, in the 2017/18 timeframe,” says Jeff White, Raytheon's SDB-II business development leader. “We envision a healthy international market.”

The company's confidence is based on both comparative affordability – one source has quoted $115,000 per missile – and the wide range of platforms that can potentially carry it. That list begins with the F-15E, for which the Lot 1 delivery is destined, but integration on the F-35 is helping broaden integration options.

“We're on the F-35B and C (as part of software) Block 4.2, which will reach IOC in 2022,” says Jim Sweetman, SDB-II program director. “Because of the F-35 schedule, we're also working with the U.S. Navy to integrate on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. This is purely driven from a Navy perspective to get a launch platform sooner than 2022.”

SDB-II is being offered to the UK for its SPEAR 3 requirement, and White says the Eurofighter consortium “is starting to express interest in SDB-II-like capabilities” for Typhoon's P4E software package. Raytheon has also developed a software technology, called Interface Bridge, which enables SDB-II carriage on aircraft with the 1760 interface. This opens up the possibilities to integrate on F-16s, among other platforms.

“There are 13 JSF countries, four countries fly F-15E-equivalent airplanes, and we have all these F-16s around the planet,” White says. “So we've got the F-16s and we've got the Typhoons. We want to try to give our European NATO allies the same adverse-weather capability that the U.S. would have.”