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October 13, 2021

USAF’s Eglin test squadron releases GBU-72 Penetrator bomb for first time

The test series was performed by the USAF’s 40th Flight Test Squadron unit.

The US Air Force’s 96th Test Wing F-15E strike fighter completed a series of three tests on 7 October with the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator dropped at 35,000ft over the Eglin Air Force Base range.

According to a press statement by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), the release of the 5,000lb GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator bomb marks the end of a test series.

The test series is planned by the 780th Test Squadron and performed by the USAF’s 40th Flight Test Squadron (FTS) unit.

It began on 23 July and marked the first time the 5,000lb bomb was loaded, flown and released.

These tests demonstrated that the weapon could be safely released from the aircraft. The tests also validated a modified 2,000lb joint-direct-attack-munition tail kit’s capability to control and navigate a 5,000lb weapon system.

GBU-72 flight and ground test efforts 780th TS Programming Engineer Ronald Forch said: “Test series of this magnitude are never successful, overall, because of just a single person or organisation.

“They are ultimately successful because the test engineer is able to perform a role very similar to that of a symphony conductor guiding the performance of a series of consecutive miracles, none any more important than the other.”

Designed for both fighter and bomber aircraft, the GBU-72 development sought to overcome ‘hardened deeply buried target’.

Next year, the GBU-72 programme will move to further JDAM integration test flights as well as developmental and operational testing.

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