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Block 3F software aids F-35 weapons test

With the aide of its new Block 3F software, the Lockheed Martin F-35 recently completed twelve weapons delivery accuracy and 13 weapon separation events during a month-long weapon test on the US West Coast.

During Block 2 software testing on the F-35, the service accomplished three weapons delivery accuracy tests in one month. The recent tests employed 30 different weapons including the Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition, Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM, Boeing GPS-guided Small Diameter Bomb and Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder, according to a 22 August Lockheed press release.

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“The WDAs rely on the full capability of the F-35 — multiple sensors, navigation, weapons envelope, mission planning, data links and inter-agency range scheduling — all working in sequence to put steel on target,” Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, F-35 programme executive officer says in the release.

Although the US Marine Corps declared initial operational capability for the F-35 in July 2015 and the US Air Force declared IOC for the F-35 on 2 August, many of the aircraft’s more advanced capabilities will not become ready until software Blocks 3F and 4 are available in 2018 and 2021, respectively. With its current Block 3I software, the F-35A is limited to 7g manoeuvres, rather than the 9g loads it is expected to handle with Block 3F.

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