Test plane BF-3, which is capable of short take-off and vertical landing, dropped an inert 1,000 lb. GBU-32 JDAM bomb over a test range in the Atlantic Ocean. The plane was flying at 4,200 feet at 400 knots at the time.
“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,” said Navy Capt. Erik Etz, director of test for F-35 naval variants. “Today’s release of a JDAM was the result of extraordinary effort by our team of maintainers, engineers, pilots and others who consistently work long hours to deliver F-35 warfighting capability to the U.S. services and our international partners.”
This was the first time any variant of the F-35 dropped an airborne weapon. It is part of the ongoing tests for the F-35, which will one day employ precision-guided weapons for air-to-air and ground attack missions.
“[Using an internal weapons bay] speaks to how much capability the [Joint Strike Fighter] is going to bring to the troops,” said Dan Levin, the Lockheed Martin test pilot for the mission. “Stealth, fifth-generation avionics and precision weapons … coupled with the flexible mission capability of the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B is going to be huge for our warfighters.”
The F-35B variant will one day serve the U.S. Marine Corps. and the military forces of the U.K. and Italy. It can serve aboard amphibious assault ships like the USS Wasp. The F-35B is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River, Md., and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., prior to delivery to the fleet.