HomeNewsArticle Display

F-35 testers wrap up Weapons Delivery Accuracy tests

An Edwards AFB F-35A Lightning II fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile as part of weapons delivery accuracy testing. The 461st Flight Test Squadron and F-35 Integrated Test Force completed WDA testing in early December, which concludes a large and important part of F-35 developmental test and evaluation. (Courtesy photo by Chad Bellay/Lockheed Martin)

An Edwards Air Force Base F-35A Lightning II fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile as part of Weapons Delivery Accuracy testing. The 461st Flight Test Squadron and F-35 Integrated Test Force completed WDA testing in early December, which concludes a large and important part of F-35 developmental test and evaluation. (Courtesy photo by Chad Bellay/Lockheed Martin)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Testers from the 461st Flight Test Squadron and F-35 Integrated Test Force completed a major test milestone bringing the F-35 Lightning II’s full combat capabilities closer to the battlefield.

Weapons Delivery Accuracy flight tests began in July 2013 and wrapped up earlier this month. The WDA portion of the F-35 developmental test and evaluation mission ensures the fifth-generation fighter’s weapons system can deliver lethal ordnance both air-to-air and air-to-ground using the jet’s warfighting Block 3F software.

The ITF used all three F-35 variants and delivered air-to-air missiles including AIM-120s, the AIM-9X and the United Kingdom’s advanced short range air-to-air missile. The WDA tests also confirmed air-to-ground delivery of the Paveway IV laser-guided bomb, GBU-39 small diameter bomb, GBU-12, GBU-31 joint direct attack munition and the AGM-154 joint standoff weapon.

“Weapons delivery accuracy tests are important, because without proof that the F-35 can actually drop these weapons where we need them to go, then the F-35 is just an information-gathering system,” said Lt. Col. Tucker Hamilton, 461st FLTS commander and F-35 ITF director. “The F-35 proved it was extremely capable in delivering these weapons where we wanted it and how we wanted it delivered. These are the most complicated and intricate missions that we had and the jet did extremely well.”

Hamilton said the air-to-air accuracy tests finished in August with air-to-ground tests ending in October. The F-35 ITF then capped off WDA tests by completing testing on the F-35’s GAU-22 25mm gun at the beginning of December. The WDA gun tests included the Air Force’s A-variant where the gun is internally carried and on the Marine Corps’ and Navy’s B and C variants, which employ a gun pod beneath the jet.

Each weapon test required multiple missions including software development, “dry runs” and then the actual weapon release. Not including the gun, Hamilton said the F-35 ITF delivered 55 weapons during WDA testing, which was mainly done over the military sea range off the California coast and at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California.

Maj. Jonathan Gilbert, 461st FLTS pilot, completed the final air-to-ground WDA test as a new test pilot to the F-35 Integrated Test Force.

“I didn't even know it was a milestone, I just knew I was dropping a weapon,” said Gilbert. “It wasn't until after that I felt the excitement from the team and the squadron to close out the WDA program. It is a credit to the team and the planning as it did not appear this would be achievable in the time the squadron accomplished it in, but yet they were able to complete it. I just had the pleasure of dropping the last one.”

Hamilton said the F-35 Joint Program Office analyzes the data from all the WDA tests and any upgrades to the F-35 mission systems software will be sent out to the F-35 operational fleet.

“When they get their 3F software, the one that is going to be productionized for full 3F capability, (the fleet) will be confident they can load these weapons and drop them on the target they’re selecting,” Hamilton said.

The F-35 Integrated Test Force, operating at both Edwards Air Force Base and at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, continues to conduct developmental flight test for the Defense Department’s F-35 Joint Program Office. Ongoing testing at Edwards AFB includes mission effectiveness testing, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime interdiction, and offensive and defensive air-to-air combat testing.

“The ITF takes these extremely challenging and intricate data requirements and then finds a way to coordinate with multiple outside agencies, drones, tankers, ranges and basically conduct these missions and make them happen in a historical manner,” said Hamilton. “No one before them has ever been able to pull off executing weapons deliveries like the individuals in the ITF.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @ViperDemoTeam: Although it's not quite time for the #AFFlyover at the #Indy500, our team has still been busy! Just ask Devin Funchess!…
Where is home for you? For Senior Airman Krizelle Bermejo, home is where her family is -- Charlotte, North Carolin… https://t.co/gUXDNoNCys
RT @USAFHealth: The 8th MDG partnered with medical personnel at Wonkwang University Medical Center to test how both parties could work toge…
.@Creech_AFB #Airman & #Civilians recently achieved 4 Million flying hours in our #USAF Remotely piloted Aircraft… https://t.co/CHDeMNZFKa
#Watch these #Airman assigned to The Homeland Response Force train with local, state & federal emergency managers a… https://t.co/3sFd2BAvnf
.@Hanscom_AFB's #energy initiative has #USAF seeking industry input while exploring opportunities for wholistic ene… https://t.co/WaBaH1cgNr
RT @SecAFOfficial: Proud to announce the #USAF cut 100.5 years off unnecessary schedules from #acquisition programs. This is how we are fie…
RT @cmsaf18: What a great way to pay tribute to an incredible Airman and teammate: Purple Heart recipient Dylan Elchin's name to be display…
#USAF #Ophthalmologists provide comprehensive care to 262 #Guyanese civilians. These vision care specialists can tr… https://t.co/91L9t51sHY
#Airmen maintain #F16 Fighting Falcons at Campia Turzii, #Romania, as part of Theater Security Package 19.1. They h… https://t.co/0pAANJMo3j
A new travel payment process for pipeline students, initiated by the #AirForce Installation and Mission Support Cen… https://t.co/OcQzldU3OK
.@PACAF Gen. CQ Brown Jr. met with Mongolian & US senior leaders, affirming their growing partnership.… https://t.co/Pg5Ma2NFUQ
Nondestructive inspection specialists identify possible defects in systems & equipment before anything can become a… https://t.co/7OHMrlLE39
.@SecAFOfficial praises #Airmen, expresses gratitude in farewell remarks reflecting on her tenure as #AirForce secr… https://t.co/bv177Nr7nk
.@SecAFOfficial was honored during a celebration ceremony @Andrews_JBA May 21, 2019, an event which highlighted her… https://t.co/tMSo0I8KxO
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you to the #Airmen & families serving around the world for the #USAF. https://t.co/CYWpd8Aeuh
Today #USAF celebrates the rapid innovations and accomplishments of @SecAFOfficial, the Honorable Heather Wilson.… https://t.co/dVQM3A5DWF
RT @SecAFOfficial: Proud to have had the opportunity to be your wingman. https://t.co/gDMUq5yA7L