The F-35 Lightning II Patuxent River integrated test force (ITF) has conducted an inaugural weapons separation test of the Paveway IV, achieving a milestone for the UK Royal Navy and RAF F-35 programme.

During the test, RAF Test Pilot Squadron Leader Andy Edgell released two inert 500lb dual mode Paveway IV precision-guided bombs from aircraft BF-03 over the Atlantic Test Ranges.

The latest development has maintained the stealth characteristics of the aircraft.

It also further strengthened the collaborative approach of the US and UK in the development of the F-35 Lightning II.

"The F-35 is developed and produced under the F-35 Lightning II programme."

The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter that features advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.

It is expected that the aircraft will achieve full operational capability by 2021 or 2022.

The F-35 is developed and produced under the F-35 Lightning II programme. The Lockheed Martin team for this project includes Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Pratt and Whitney and Rolls-Royce.

Currently, the F-35 is currently under development in three versions. These aircraft will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the US Air Force (USAF), the F/A-18 for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the US Marine Corps, as well as several other aircraft for at least ten other countries.

Recently, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics secured a $920m contract from the US Department of Defense to purchase materials, parts and components for the manufacture and delivery of 94 F-35 Lightning II low rate initial production aircraft.

The order for 94 F-35 fighter jets include 78 F-35A aircraft for the USAF, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Norway, as well as for various other foreign military sales customers.

Image: BF-03 releases Paveway IV precision-guided bomb over the Atlantic Test Ranges. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.