F-35 Lightning II Surges Forward with Record Breaking Weapons Test Successes
The F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, recently completed 25 missions comprising of 12 Weapons Delivery Accuracy (WDA) and 13 Weapon Separation Tests as part of a month-long weapon’s firing test surge. Historically, WDAs take place once a month given the myriad of coordination required. The highest number previously accomplished in a month was three, which occured in November of 2014 during 2B software testing.
These successful test events — performed using the F-35’s newest block 3F software — demonstrated the accuracy of the F-35s. Five of the test events featured dropping multiple weapons. The F-35 weapons test team was given exclusive use of the Sea Test Range, an instrumented Pacific Ocean test area off the central coast near Point Mugu Naval Air Station, California. Tests were also conducted at the U.S. Navy’s China Lake Weapons Range, California, and the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
During this unprecedented surge period, a total of 30 weapons were dropped or fired, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition, AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, GPS-guided 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air heat-seeking missile.
“The WDAs rely on the full capability of the F-35 — multiple sensors, navigation, weapons envelope, mission planning, data links and inter-agency range scheduling — all working in sequence to put steel on target,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “This was a tremendous effort by the F-35 test team. They surged and worked seven days a week for more than a month to expend 30 ordnance and advance weapons testing. This testing has moved us that much closer to delivering the full F-35 capability to warfighters within the next two years.”