USAF completes testing of Paveway II bomb on F-35C Lightning II


The US Air Force's (USAF) 461st Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) has recently completed testing of GBU-12 Paveway II guided bomb on an F-35C carrier variant.

The F-35 weapon delivery accuracy test was conducted over a controlled range at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. It is the first developmental test release of a guided GBU-12 from the F-35C model.

During the test, the guided bomb was employed against a computer-driven small pickup truck on the ground.

775th Flight Test Squadron engineer Collin O’Fallon said that this weapon delivery accuracy test was the first from an F-35 in the 3F software configuration, which has incorporated new release logic to enhance effectiveness against moving targets, with the objective of reducing pilot workload.

"This was really a test of the aircraft targeting system and associated weaponeering logic, and the results of this test will be used to certify this capability with a GBU-12 on the F-35."

O’Fallon said: “This logic is called Lead Point Compute, which in essence, delays the release point of the weapon to ensure the weapon has the available kinematics to guide to and reach the target at its future location.”

The GBU-12 was built up using an explosively inert warhead and the fuse of the bomb was replaced with an inertial measurement unit to measure accelerations during employment.

The USAF stated that data collected from the test will certify this weapon’s capability and enhance the lethality of the F-35.

O’Fallon added: “This was really a test of the aircraft targeting system and associated weaponeering logic, and the results of this test will be used to certify this capability with a GBU-12 on the F-35.”

According to the statement, developmental testing has now performed a GBU-12 release from every F-35 variant.


Image: A GBU-12 Paveway II guided bomb engages a computer-driven pickup truck. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin.