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The Road Ahead for SDB II: Raytheon expects to begin flight testing the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II system next year, company officials said Tuesday during a webcast with reporters. The air-delivered weapon, designated the GBU-53/B, features a tri-mode seeker that will enable it to attack moving or stationary surface targets in all weather conditions. Initial low-rate production is slated to begin in 2013, with full-rate production commencing in 2017, said Harry Schulte, Raytheon's vice president of Air Warfare Systems. The Air Force plans to procure 12,000 SDB II rounds, while the Navy will buy 5,000, said Schulte. Air Force F-15Es will employ the GBU-53, as will Navy F-35C and Marine Corps F-35B strike fighters. Raytheon on Aug. 9 won the rights to supply these bombs by beating a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team. (GBU-53/B fact sheet) (See also Raytheon Unveils SDB II from the Daily Report archives)