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.
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.