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F-35C conducts first external weapons test, dropping four inert 500-pound bombs

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Posted at 7:41 PM, Oct 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-02 19:45:15-04
CF-2 releases one of four 500-pound GBU-12 laser guided inert bombs from its wings’ pylons over the Atlantic Test Range. The test marked the first time an F-35 Lightning II conducted an external weapons separation release. (Photo by F-35 ITF photographer Andy Wolfe.)

CF-2 releases one of four 500-pound GBU-12 laser guided inert bombs from its wings’ pylons over the Atlantic Test Range. The test marked the first time an F-35 Lightning II conducted an external weapons separation release. (Photo by F-35 ITF photographer Andy Wolfe.)

The F-35C marked another milestone recently, releasing an external weapon from its wings, not once, but four times during an external weapons separation test on September 23rd.

The aircraft, CF-2, released four 500-pound GBU-12 laser guided inert bombs from its wings’ pylons during consecutive test runs over the Atlantic Test Range.

The F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force conducted the flight and noted all four weapon separations were successful and confirmed the accuracy of the predicted release trajectory.  The ability to do quadruple separation tests during a single flight demonstrates the program’s ability to efficiently test, and advances the F-35’s future capability to release multiple weapons on a single pass.

During the sortie, flight test engineers monitored and reviewed telemetry data from each GBU-12 to confirm it was safe to proceed to the next release point. The team also saved costs by clearing the range once rather than four times to accomplish each separation.

Traditional flight test programs often rely upon a series of individual separation flights to accommodate engineering analysis to determine if it is safe to proceed to the next test point.  The F-35 weapons certification process combined extensive wind tunnel testing and computer analysis to predict the trajectory of the weapons released from the aircraft.  Additionally, the F-35 features an on-board instrumentation capability that delivers real-time data analysis to engineers in the control room

This year, the F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force, has flown 500 flights and achieved 3,400 test points.  The team’s five F-35B and four F-35C aircraft have supported a wide array of mission systems and flight tests.