The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter test program has reached what Lockheed Martin calls a significant milestone by successfully dropping a dummy bomb into the Atlantic Ocean.
The release of an inert 1000 lb GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) was the first time an F-35 has released a weapon in flight. The mission was carried out by a short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B, the variant ordered by the US Marine Corps and the United Kingdom.
Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 program, said the weapon release was the first step in validating the F-35’s “capability to employ precision weapons and allow pilots to engage the enemy on the ground and in the air.”
An aerial weapons separation test checks for proper release of the weapon from its carriage system and trajectory away from the aircraft, and is the culmination of a significant number of prior tests, Lockheed Martin said.
“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.