Air Weapons: Adaptive Breaker Evolves From JDAM

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July 21, 2022: In July Israeli firm Rafael introduced a unique new air-launched cruise missile called Ice Breaker. This is basically an air launched version of the ship or ground launched Sea Breaker introduced in 2021, These missiles have a range of 300 kilometers, using a small turbojet engine and large pop-out wings. What makes both missiles unique is that they are designed to operate against targets defended with all manner of electronic defenses, including GPS jamming. They have a top speed of about 1,000 kilometers an hour (just below the sound barrier). Their guidance system is the most novel aspect of the Breaker missiles in that adaptive heat-seeking and image recognition software is used to identify a specific stationary or moving target. Adaptive is often called AI (Artificial Intelligence) that will adapt to efforts to camouflage or hide (via smoke or other obscurants) the target. Breaker uses GPS as well as jam-proof INS (Inertial Guidance system) and the AI system to identify and hit a ship or building. If conditions (no jamming) are right the missile can transmit video of what it is headed for, allowing for manual abort. Otherwise, the missile will seek other targets or self-destruct if Breaker cannot find a target. The breaker missiles weigh between 350 and 400 kg (770-880 pounds) and carry a 113 kg (250-pound) warhead designed for penetration, blast and fragmentation. Sea Breaker has a booster rocket and can be launched from existing Spyder air defense missile launchers. F-16s can carry seven Ice Breaker missiles and other aircraft, like the F-15, F-35, Gripen and even armed jet trainers like the FA-50 or M346. Ice Breaker is deigned to improve on the earlier SPICE glide bombs.

In 2005 Rafael introduced a variation on the American JDAM called SPICE (Stand-Off Precision Guidance Munition). SPICE adds a camera in the nose, and the capability to store several digital photos of the target (a building, radar antennae, or a moving target, like a missile transporter) in the bomb. When SPICE gets close enough to see what's down there, the guidance camera compares what it sees in front of it with what is stored in its memory. If it gets a match, it heads right for it. If no target can be found, SPICE hits a specific GPS location or just self-destructs.

SPICE equipped bombs have small wings and can be dropped up to 100 kilometers from the target they will glide to. SPICE costs about twice as much as JDAM kits and is similar to earlier (pre-JDAM), and much more expensive, U.S. smart bomb designs like Paveway. The latest version of SPICE has a much-improved guidance sensor (camera) and computer and can store up to a hundred images of potential targets as well as instructions on what to hit when there are multiple choices. Many of these images are of the same target from different angles and such. The SPICE 1000 kit is for the 453 kg (1,000 pound) dumb bomb.

Israel has successfully used a number of new air-launched missiles in Syria over the last few years. Ice Breaker will also be used in Syria, where the Syrian air defenses and jamming have proven ineffective against the new high-speed missiles. Ice Breaker and Sea Breaker are meant to add a cheaper, shorter-range missile to the mix and will soon demonstrate if it works as advertised in combat. Sea Breaker is also installed on Israel warships operating off the Lebanese coast, usually fired from anti-aircraft missile launchers like Spyder. The Breaker missiles are designed to be quickly adaptable to different fire control systems.

 


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