F-35 Sets Weapons Test Mission Record with New Software

F-35 test pilot Marine Maj. Douglas ‘Rosie’ Rosenstock, live fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile from an F-35B above the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, California. Source: F-35 Joint Program OfficeF-35 test pilot Marine Maj. Douglas ‘Rosie’ Rosenstock, live fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile from an F-35B above the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, California. Source: F-35 Joint Program Office

The F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, California, completed 25 weapons test missions over the course of a month, JPO officials announced today. These missions included 12 weapons delivery accuracy tests and 13 weapons separation tests on at least five different weapons systems, officials said.

This blows up the previous record of three WDA tests in a month, set in Nov. 2014 while testing the 2B software block.

Testing took place on the Sea Test Range, a Pacific Ocean test area near Point Mugu Naval Air Station California, the Navy’s China Lake Weapons Range in California, and the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, officials said.

In all, 30 munitions were dropped or fired from weapons including the Joint Direct Attack Munition, AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, GPS-guided 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb, AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air heat-seeking missile, and GPS and laser-guided munition, officials said in the announcement. In five of the test events, multiple bombs or missiles were fired.

“The WDAs rely on the full capability of the F-35 — multiple sensors, navigation, weapons envelope, mission planning, data links and inter-agency range scheduling — all working in sequence to put steel on target,” Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, program executive office for the F-35, said in a statement.  “This was a tremendous effort by the F-35 test team.  They surged and worked seven days a week for more than a month to expend 30 ordnance and advance weapons testing.  This testing has moved us that much closer to delivering the full F-35 capability to warfighters within the next two years.”

To date, two out of the Defense Department’s three F-35 variants have declared initial operational capability: the Marine Corps’ F-35B and the Air Force’s F-35A. The Navy is expected to declare IOC for its carrier-variant F-35C with the block 3F software near the end of 2018.

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Hope Hodge Seck
Hope Hodge Seck is a reporter at Military.com. She can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.