Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have an F-35 release a bomb over a moving target? The Royal Air Force has released footage that reveals what happens in such a scenario.
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The video was produced by the RAF’s 17 Squadron. That particular squadron is responsible for testing and evaluating the British military’s newest aircraft. It is currently based in Edwards Air Force Base, which is located in Southern California, and embedded with the United States Air Force (USAF) 461st Flight Test Squadron.
Currently, the squadron continues the operational testing and evaluation process of the F-35B. The British pilots are utilizing three test aircraft, which are designated as ZM135, ZM136, and ZM138. They form a part of the F-35 Joint Operational Test Team (JOTT). Comprised of pilots from the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands, the JOTT is putting the three different variants of the F-35 through what is known as the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) process. The F-35A is intended for the USAF; the F-35B is primarily intended for the Royal Navy and the United States Marine Corps (USMC); and the F-35C for the U.S. Navy.
The IOT&E process is scheduled to last until the summer of 2019. Its aim is to determine the combat readiness and effectiveness of all three F-35 variants. Currently, there are about 350 F-35s currently deployed around the world, flown either by the U.S. or partner nations
Although 17 Squadron belongs to the RAF, it is comprised of both RAF and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm pilots. The particular capability display happened with an F-35B. The B variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is intended for the Royal Navy. It has a short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) capability, making it the perfect aircraft to be deployed on the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales — the former has just finished a series of sea and air trials in the U.S., and the latter is still under construction and estimated to enter the British fleet early in the next decade.
The United Kingdom forms an integral part in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme. Under the current agreement with Lockheed-Martin, British firms will construct 15 percent of the around 3,000 F-35 aircraft global order, which amounts to about 450 aircraft. The agreement includes all three variants of the aircraft (F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C).
A USMC F-35B completed the aircraft’s first combat mission against a Taliban target in Afghanistan back in September. Despite this milestone, however, the aircraft is still plagued by technical issues. A few months ago, a USMC F-35B crashed almost immediately after taking off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, in South Carolina. The USMC is still investigating the reasons for the crash.