Lockheed Martin’s F-35 successfully released a weapon while airborne, the first time the stealth fighter has dropped a bomb while in flight.
The test, using an inert 1,000 lb. GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), was done Wednesday, Stephen O’Bryan, Lockheed’s Vice president for F-35 program integration, told Defence Watch.
“It is a big deal and it speaks to the maturity and growing maturity of the system,” he said.
Traveling at 400 knots at an altitude of 4,200 feet, a short take-off and vertical landing F-35 variant, released the munition over water in an Atlantic test range.
“While this weapons separation test is just one event in a series of hundreds of flights and thousands of test points that we are executing this year, it does represent a significant entry into a new phase of testing for the F-35 program,” Navy Capt. Erik Etz, director of test for F-35 naval variants, said in a statement.
The release was the first time for any version of the F-35 to conduct an airborne weapon separation, as well as the first from an internal weapons bay for a fighter aircraft designated for the U.S. Marine Corps, the United Kingdom and Italy, the U.S. military noted.
“[Using an internal weapons bay] speaks to how much capability the JSF is going to bring to the troops,” Dan Levin, Lockheed Martin test pilot for the mission, said in a statement.
An aerial weapons separation test checks for proper release of the weapon from its carriage system and trajectory away from the aircraft.
O’Bryan told Defence Watch that the testing of the F-35 aircraft are progressing well. The planes have been operated at above 40,000 fleet and at speeds of 1.6 Mach, he added. “The plane is flying extremely well,” said O’Bryan.
Asian Defence News