The F-35 program recently performed an “unprecedented” surge of weapons testing by completing 25 tests in one month, according to a Defense Department statement.
The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) said the F-35 Integrated Test Force recently conducted 12 weapons delivery accuracy (WDA) tests and 13 weapon separation tests (WST). JPO said the most tests previously accomplished in a month were three in November 2014 during Block 2B software testing. Historically, WDA tests take place once a month due to what JPO called a myriad of coordination required.
These successful test events, performed using the F-35’s newest Block 3F software, demonstrated the accuracy of the F-35, according to JPO. Five of the test events featured dropping multiple weapons. A total of 30 weapons were dropped or fired, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM); the GPS-guided, 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb (SDB); AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air heat-seeking missile and a GPS/laser-guided munition. JPO did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday.
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, Calif. Tests were also conducted at the Navy’s China Lake Weapons Range, Calif., and the White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
F-35 Program Executive Officer (PEO) Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said in a statement that the testing team worked seven days a week for more than a month to expend 30 ordnance and advanced weapon testing. This testing, he said, brought DoD that much closer to delivering the full F-35 capability to warfighters within the next year. The Air Force declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the F-35A in early August while the Marine Corps declared IOC for the F-35B in July 2015. The Navy intends to declare IOC for the F-35C in 2018.
The F-35 is developed by Lockheed Martin [LMT] with subcontractors BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman [NOC].