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First F-35 Laser-Guided Bomb Test

Lockheed Martin released a video showing the first F-35 laser-guided bomb test. The test was conducted on Oct. 29 against a fixed ground tank test target at the Base Precision Impact Range Area at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The F-35 dropped a Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) Paveway II laser-guided bomb from its internal weapons bay.

F-35 Lightning II

An F-35 Lightning II releases a Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) Paveway II laser-guided weapon from its internal weapons bay against a fixed ground tank test target, Edward Air Force Base, Calif., Oct. 29, 2013. The F-35’s Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) enabled the pilot to identify, track, designate and deliver the GBU-12 on target. Lockheed Martin photo

The laser-guided bomb test was hailed as yet another combat capability advancement by the F-35. The F-35B, piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Richard Rusnok, released the 500-pound GBU-12 from 25,000 feet. The GBU-12 fell for 35 seconds before hitting the stationary tank target. “This guided weapons delivery test of a GBU-12 marks the first time the F-35 truly became a weapon system,” said Rusnok. No explosives were contained in the GBU-12 used in the test. “It represents another step forward in the development of this vital program,” added Rusnok. The Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) aboard the F-35 enabled the pilot to successfully identify, track, designate and deliver the GBU-12 on target. EOTS is the first sensor to combine forward-looking infrared, infrared search and track, and laser designator, which allow F-35 pilots a maximized capability.

GBU-12 Paveway II

A Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) Paveway II laser-guided weapon strikes its target after delivery from the internal weapons bay of an F-35 Lightning II, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Oct. 29, 2013. Lockheed Martin photo

The first guided weapon test for the F-35 is the latest in a recent flurry of advancements in F-35 weapons testing. A U.S. Navy F-35C conducted its first weapons separation test on Oct. 21, at Naval Air Station Paxuxent River, Md. Additionally, a U.S. Air Force F-35A conducted the first ground release pit testing of a 250-pound GBU-39 small diameter on Oct. 23, at Edwards.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...