HomeNewsArticle Display

F-35 surges forward with record-breaking weapons tests

Maj. Douglas Rosenstock fires an AIM-120 missile from an F-35 during a recent weapons test surge here. By the end of the surge the F-35 Integrated Test Team released 30 weapons in 31 days, a first in flight test. (Photo by Darrin Russel/Lockheed Martin)

Maj. Douglas Rosenstock fires an AIM-120 AMRAAM from an F-35 Lightning II during a recent weapons test surge at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. By the end of the surge the F-35 Integrated Test Team released 30 weapons in 31 days, a first in flight testing. (Lockheed Martin photo/Darrin Russel)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The F-35 Integrated Test Force here recently completed 25 missions comprised of 12 weapons delivery accuracy and 13 weapon separation tests as part of a monthlong weapons firing test surge.

Historically, WDAs take place once a month given the myriad of coordination required. The highest number previously accomplished in a month was three in November 2014 during block 2B software testing.

Maj. Charles Trickey, interim director of operations for the 461st Flight Test Squadron, flew the final mission of the surge Aug. 17. The mission was completed at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, where F-35 Lightning IIs shot two advanced medium-range, air-to-air missiles at a QF-4 drone.

“Some of these WDAs were particularly challenging events,” Trickey said. He said the final mission was actually the fourth attempt to complete this test. “It was really cool to see the satisfaction of the team, and to get that feeling of accomplishment after doing something that challenging.”

All told, the F-35 ITF deployed 30 weapons in 31 days, which included 12 WDAs and 13 separations, according to Trickey.

“Thirty separations in 31 days; that’s never been done before in flight test,” said Capt. Brett Tillman, a flight test engineer with the 461st FTS. “The fact that we could get everything together to do that number of separations in that few days is pretty amazing.”

These successful test events -- performed using the F-35’s newest block 3F software -- demonstrated the accuracy of the aircraft. Five of the test events featured dropping multiple weapons.

The effort for this surge wasn’t limited to the F-35 test team. There were a number of units outside the F-35 ITF that put in extra effort and time to make the surge successful, including Edwards AFB airfield and tanker operations, the 416th FTS and the F-35 Joint Program Office.

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, California. Tests were also conducted at the U.S. Navy’s China Lake weapons range in California and White Sands missile range.

“The amount of coordination and teamwork from the ITF and the outside organizations to enable this is unprecedented,” Tillman said. “The work these team members put in is amazing. It couldn’t have been done without them.”

During this surge period, a total of 30 weapons were dropped or fired, 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 supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile and GPS laser-guided munition.

“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,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, an F-35 program executive officer. “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 advanced weapons testing. This testing has moved us that much closer to delivering the full F-35 capability to warfighters within the next two years.”

The F-35 is a multi-role, next-generation fighter that combines advanced stealth with speed, agility and a 360-degree view of the battlespace. The F-35 will form the backbone of air combat superiority for decades to come and replace legacy tactical fighter fleets with dominant air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities to deter and defeat potential adversaries.

The Marine Corps declared the F-35B combat ready, or initial operating capability, in July 2015; the Air Force declared F-35A IOC on Aug. 2; and the Navy intends to attain F-35C IOC in 2018. More than 200 F-35s have flown in excess of 66,000 fleet-wide hours, with over 300 F-35 pilots and 3,000 maintainers trained to operate and support this next-generation aircraft.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
DYK: Aircraft have lifespans! Like humans, they require check-ups in the form of maintenance inspections to prolong their ability to fly. These "checks" prevent in-flight system failures which ultimately protects aircrew and passengers. Learn more from the 86th Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on what it takes to correct issues so aircraft can stay airborne.
WATCH: United States Air Force pilots talk about the importance of Exercise Saber Strike 18 as they refuel over the Baltic Sea on June 18, 2018. Saber Strike 18 is a long-standing training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and our allies. The training focused on improving land and air operational capabilities between the U.S. and our NATO allies. (U.S. Air National Guard video by: Master Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf)
Check out some shots from yesterday's All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game in Washington, D.C. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals U.S. Army
Air Force and U.S. Army coed softball teams render military honors during the playing of the National Anthem during the All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game, Washington, D.C., July 13, 2018. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals
Great way to lead by example!
The United States Air Force is facing a pilot shortage. To help solve the challenge, the Aircrew Crisis Task Force was recently created to provide strategic direction and actionable recommendations to senior leaders on how to solve the aircrew manning crisis. FULL STORY: https://go.usa.gov/xUb3z
Your United States Air Force news: ✓ A B-52 crew assists in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Guam ✓ An Afghan pilot class graduates in the Czech Republic ✓ The Air Force is using innovative approaches to training pilots to make the process faster and more efficient
Now that’s how weathermen work! Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly weather reconnaissance missions into Tropical Storm Chris and Tropical Storm Beryl. http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1569944/hurricane-hunters-fly-tropical-storms-beryl-chris/
The F-22 Raptor's combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. Maintaining these aircraft can involve a bit of a learning curve. Airmen at KadenaAirBase use past technology to help learn how to work with the undefeated Raptor. FULL STORY: http://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1567295/hard-to-raptor-head-around/
Help us out! Can you caption this photo?
The B-52 Stratofortress has sniper pods that provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilize surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. Air Force Global Strike Command crew members on a B-52 were able to spot a historic Pacific Island style canoe so that the U.S. Coast Guard could rescue the six passengers!
For the past 60 years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has continually helped us maintain a technological edge against our advarsaries. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory - AFRL, a fusion of ideas is leading to newly highlighted innovations.
SOUND ON! Celebrate freedom with the sound of freedom! Happy Independence Day!
These supply #Airmen work 24/7 to ensure there is no break in the mission @RAFMildenhall because #NKAWTGhttps://t.co/biE2BPXVe1
Every #Airman has their reason for serving. Read on as these #Airmen explain what putting on the uniform everyday m… https://t.co/ubeDmY1liq
For the first time in the 63-year history of Operation Deep Freeze, #Airmen from the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Sq… https://t.co/CdeyI4HjHT
#DYK, the #MedalofHonor is the highest award for bravery that can be awarded to members of the United States Armed… https://t.co/qei2LbbD1I
.@388fw’s 4th Fighter Squadron became the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s the #aircraft’s 25mm cannon on… https://t.co/J7hbXrCSCv
#DYK: The @22ARW is the host unit of McConnell AFB! Its mission is to conduct air refueling & airlift operations su… https://t.co/12bR9cwIuG
RT @71FTW: An aircraft crash has occurred approximately 50 miles west of Vance AFB. Pilot is conscious and with emergency responders. Follo…
.@HQUSAFEPA #Airmen & seven African partner nations strengthened relationships through the African Partnership Flig… https://t.co/FsvAK4n3i3
.@20FighterWing #Airmen learned how to be resilient by taking a leap of faith. https://t.co/WCgebfzEmj https://t.co/5JHPF7P1Px
RT @USAFHealth: A new transition cell was recently stood-up to coordinate and support ongoing transition efforts related to the NDAA and tr…
.@Travis60AMW #Airmen helped the Advanced Extremely High Frequency-4 program complete a major milestone by ensuring… https://t.co/yut12HK3M5
The School of Air Evacuation honored the history, present and future of aeromedical evacuation during their 75th an… https://t.co/5uYoyUwy9z
.@PANationalGuard #Airmen have new and improved parachutes. Read more about the lifesaving equipment:… https://t.co/QC1BGX8Fbl
At the @20FighterWing, munitions #Airmen train and work as a team to load 'em up & move 'em out.… https://t.co/9leaqRS8vI
Imagine trying to use a stethoscope on a plane. The noise makes the tool essentially useless. A new #technology aim… https://t.co/AYMf42Q0Wf
Read about this #Airman's experiences as he serves with the @Aus_AirForce through the Military Personnel Exchange P… https://t.co/6Td7p8u3ZO
RT @HQUSAFEPA: We. Are. NATO. U.S. Air Force F-22s and Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35s conducted training ops over Norwegian airspace toget…
Tune into this edition of Around the #AirForce https://t.co/SFdrh7AIIY
#DYK: Our #militaryworkingdogs are seen at veterinary treatment facilities, ensuring the #K9s are healthy and able… https://t.co/MZE22dcoZ1