B-2 drops 80 test bombs
By 2nd Lt. Brooke Davis, Air Force Flight Test Center Public Affairs
/ Published August 08, 2003
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- In an effort to increase the B-2 Spirit's operational capability, a test force here conducted an airborne release of 80 Joint Direct Attack Munitions separation test vehicles. The separation test vehicles are inert weapons used to collect data.
The Aug. 6 test was one of more than nine sorties flown as a build-up toward equipping the aircraft to carry and release up to 80 JDAMs on a single missions, according to Mark Burke, 419th Flight Test Squadron project manager. The purpose of the build-up approach is to reduce the risk of aircraft collision with the weapons, explained Burke.
"The overall objective of this program is to integrate the Smart Bomb Release Assembly and JDAM-82 into the B-2," said Burke. "This improved capability will allow the B-2 to carry 80 JDAMs."
The brains of the SBRA are the Smart Bomb Rack Controller and the Stores Management Operational Flight Program. This allows the weapons to be released at specific intervals, according to Burke. The JDAM-82, a 500-pound smart bomb, is able to communicate with the aircraft through a cable, instructing the weapon to strike a specific target.
The vehicles used during the drop are not considered smart weapons because target data will not be passed to the weapon, said Burke. Data collected from each sortie will be analyzed by the Air Force Seek Eagle Office at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Officials use this data to certify the safety of new weapons on aircraft, and the B-2 test program is required to have AFSEO clearance before progressing to the next release sortie.
"Once all of the data collected from the STV release is analyzed by AFSEO, the program will progress into the demo phase," said Burke. "The demo phase will be an end-to-end test that proves the capabilities of the SBRA and JDAM-82 weapons load."
The demo phase is a two-part mission that will be flown from Edwards to the Utah Testing and Training Range at Hill AFB, Utah, Burke explained.
The demo phase will mark the first demonstration of an airborne platform with the maximum amount of mass-precision capability achieved by the B-2 test program, according to Maj. William Power, 419th FLTS project pilot.
The first demo test, scheduled for late August, will be the released 32 inert JDAMs onto the JDAM complex, which is set up to represent an operational airfield. The final demo test, scheduled for September, will release 80 inert JDAM-82 weapons at once with the potential of striking 80 different targets on the JDAM complex.