Wherefore art thou Lockheed Martin?

Neither Lockheed Martin nor the Joint Strike Fighter program office could be found anywhere at the Navy League’s Sea, Air, and Space Exposition–which is strange since the Department of the Navy ‘owns’ two of the three F-35 variants. They’re also supposed to buy 680 jets–420 USMC jets (340 F-35Bs + 80 F-35Cs) and 260 planes for the Navy. You’d think they’d be there.

(BTW–Yes, I’m well aware the ‘wherefore’ here means why rather than where in the context of Mr. Shakespeare’s play. I just don’t care.)

While Lockheed was a no show at Sea, Air, and Space, the company did release a video of the first British F-35B. They offered a version without music, but I’m too lazy to upload it–sorry. You minions will just have to suck it up.

Nor have the testers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, been idle… On 29 March, F-35 developmental testers finished pit-drops of nine different types of weapons from the jet’s internal bays, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) says. Trials were performed on inert GBU-12 Laser-Guided Bombs, the 1000-pound GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and other types.

The last test was performed on a 500 lbs bomb that was dropped from BF-3, the third short take-off vertical landing test jet.

 Thumbnail image for 6965210969_f9296599cf_bf-35b.jpgThis is not a shot of the pit-drop testing incidentally… courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

According to NAVAIR, weapons pit-drop testing collects data to measure stresses on the airframe and adjacent stores, ensures proper weapon and suspension equipment function, and validates the separation models for the munitions’ ejection characteristics, including trajectories and velocities. “Completion of these weapons ejections into the pit gets us closer to in-flight release of weapons from the F-35,” says US Navy Captain Erik Etz, director of test and evaluation for F-35 naval variants.

But while NAVAIR gears up for in-flight armament tests, other weapons trials on the F-35B and F-35C carrier variant are currently underway at Pax River. Current tests include pit drops, captive carry and instrumented weapons environmental flights, which will lead up to flight separation testing scheduled for later this year.


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