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March 20, 2017
 

461st FLTS tests U.K. weapons for F-35B

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Kenji Thuloweit
Edwards AFB, Calif.

An F-35B Lightning II from the 461st Flight Test Squadron fires a United Kingdom-built AIM-132 ASRAAM (advanced short range air-to-air missile) over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California Feb. 24, 2017.

The 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., recently conducted weapon delivery accuracy tests with two United Kingdom weapons.

The weapons were released from a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, short takeoff/vertical landing variant, which will also be used by the U.K’s Royal Air Force and Navy.

The U.K. weapons used for the test were the AIM-132 ASRAAM (advanced short range air-to-air missile) and Paveway IV precision-guided bomb.

The 461st FLTS is responsible for the execution of all mission systems developmental testing for U.K. F-35Bs.

According to the Royal Air Force, the ASRAAM is a short-range, infrared-guided missile carried by the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornado GR4s.

The Paveway IV is an advanced and highly accurate, state-of-the-art precision guided bomb. It’s an all-weather bomb with inertial navigation and GPS- and laser-guided bombing capabilities that is used by RAF and Royal Navy fighters.

Collin O’Fallon, F-35 weapon integration engineer, said two tests have been conducted with the Paveway IV. The first test was executed at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and was a laser-mode employment of the guided bomb against a tank on the ground. The second test was conducted over Edwards AFB’s Precision Impact Range Area to test the bomb’s GPS/inertial navigation employment against a tank.

 “The two Paveway IV live-fires represent full end-to-end weapon-aircraft integration tests for these two significant use cases of this weapon’s employment modes,” said O’Fallon.

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Aaron Frey, 461st Flight Test Squadron, pilots an F-35B Lightning II and releases a United Kingdom Paveway IV precision-guided munition March 1, 2017, over Edwards AFB’s Precision Impact Range Area. The Marine Corps’ F-35B is the short takeoff/vertical landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, which will also be used by the Royal Air Force.

 On Feb. 24, one U.K. AIM-132 ASRAAM was fired at an unmanned drone over the Point Mugu Sea Range off of the California coast.

“The purpose of the test was to verify that the F-35 system could be used to target and engage an air target with an ASRAAM,” said Max Heald, 461st FLTS, F-35 weapon integration engineer. “The test also verified that the F-35 properly communicated to the missile and gave it everything it needed to prosecute a target.”

Heald added the data collected in the test provided evidence to the weapon supplier they could use to certify AIM-132 ASRAAM carriage on the F-35B.

The 461st FLTS and Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Test Force conducts developmental testing and evaluation for all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II.




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