The F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards AFB recently completed 25 missions with Block 3F software comprised of 12 weapons delivery accuracy (WDA’s) and 13 weapon separation tests.
The F-35’s newest block 3F software seems to be performing well. The F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) was able to complete weapons testing using the new software and had some success.
“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.”
3F software issues have been a problem for the F-35. 3F software is the final software block required for full war fighting capability. The rushed test schedule and weapons delivery was described by Michael Gilmore, the DoD’s director of operational test and evaluation, as “not realistic” and constituted a “very high risk of failing”.
The F-35 ITF deployed 30 weapons in 31 days, which included 12 WDAs and 13 separations.
The testing included Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) drops, GPS-guided 250-pound small diameter bomb drops, and AIM-9X Sidewinder supersonic shots. F-35 Lightning IIs also shot two advanced medium-range, air-to-air (AMRAAM) missiles at a QF-4 drone in its final mission. However, it took four attempts to complete the final AMRAAM test.
“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.”
The WDA testing puts the F-35 one step closer to full war fighting capability.
“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.
The goal is to deliver full Block 3F capabilities in the fall of 2017.
You can read Christopher Ball’s (412th Test Wing Public Affairs) full article here
Top Photo: 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. (Lockheed Martin photo/Darrin Russel)