August 10, 2012. By David Pugliese - Defence Watch
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.