F-35B completes weapons load testing
F-35B completes weapons load testing
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F-35B completes weapons load testing

The F-35B has completed weapons load testing onboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) as part of the third developmental test phase (DT-III).

The Patuxent River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 embarked America Oct. 28 with an aggressive test plan featuring a broad array of milestones, which included shipboard launch and recovery expansion test points focused on the evaluation of flying qualities at various aircraft weights, in particular in regard to crosswinds, sink rates, and high sea states. Additionally, the DT-III weapons team evaluated ordnance separation tests and live-fire tests.

The DT-III weapons team conducted the load tests on land prior to embarking on America. The team tested all of the takeoff and landing worst-case scenarios and endpoints. Taking part in the tests was RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, an F-35 test pilot embeddedat the Pax River ITF.

In preparation of DT-III load testing, America's Weapons Department assembled two types of smart bombs : laser-guided GBU-12s and satellite-guided GBU-32s for the first time in the ship's short history.

With the bombs built by America, the test pilots from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 from Edwards Air Force Base, California, conducted successful live-weapons tests for two consecutive days by dropping six GBU-12s on a live-weapons range in Yuma, Arizona.

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