GBU-32 Weapon Delivery Accuracy Test Completes F-35 Lightning II Flight Test Milestone
An F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) fighter aircraft successfully employed a Guided Bomb Unit-32 (GBU-32) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon from the F-35B's internal weapons bay against a fixed ground test target on Dec. 6, completing a successful flight test and verification year for weapons integration.
The latest series of weapons tests was accomplished with Block 2B software. The GBU-32 JDAM is a 1,000 pound "smart" bomb with high accuracy, all-weather, autonomous, conventional bombing capability that is guided by a Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided Inertial Navigation System (INS) to its target upon separation from the jet.
The F-35B aircraft, BF-18, launched from the Air Force Flight Test Center here piloted by U.S. Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Jon "Miles" Ohman. The F-35B separated the GBU-32 from its internal weapons bay above a restricted military precision impact test range in California's Mojave Desert. The GBU-32, released from an altitude of 25,000 feet, guided to a direct hit on its intended target of eight stacked cargo containers.
"This milestone completed the 2013 U.S. Government and Lockheed Martin integrated test force team commitment to perform a Weapon Delivery Accuracy test for each of the Block 2B software weapon types, which includes the AIM-120, GBU-12, and GBU-31/32," said J.D. McFarlan, vice president, F-35 Test & Verification at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
"The combined efforts of the government-industry team have led us to this final weapons event of 2013, and I couldn't be more proud of our team," said Charlie Wagner, F-35 Government Weapons Test Lead.
The test was a major milestone in the F-35 program for the Marine Corps' F-35 Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2015 (employing the 2B software), Air Force IOC in 2016 and Navy IOC in 2018. On Oct. 21, an F-35C Navy carrier variant (CV) at Patuxent River, Md., conducted its first weapons separation test; on Oct. 29, an F-35B U.S. Marine Corps variant short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) jet successfully employed a Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) Paveway II laser-guided weapon against a fixed ground tank test target, and on Oct. 31, an F-35A U.S. Air Force conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant successfully launched an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) against an aerial target.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.