Raytheon has made a number of gains in its weapons programmes that will see them eventually integrated onto the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
In early June, the US Marine Corps was announced its intention to integrate the company’s GBU-49 onto its JSFs, building on the previous commitment the US Air Force had made to acquire the weapon for its F-35As.
It will be rolled out under the programme’s Block 3F software upgrade, and Raytheon plans to complete the necessary paperwork for the initial units in October this year, followed by deliveries of 400 systems by the end of 2017 and 800 in 2018.
The newest Lot 5 version of the 500lb (226kg) bomb will now be integrated onto all three variants of the JSF, and it is expected that an additional 300 units on top of the USAF order will be delivered for the USMC.
The Lot 5 version is also used on the Lockheed F-16 and another undisclosed platform, and it is expected to be operational on the JSF as of the first quarter of 2018.
Raytheon has also successfully carried out high-speed windtunnel testing of its 200lb Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) II, which will also eventually be integrated onto the F-35.
While the initial development will see it integrated onto the Boeing F-15E for the USAF and Boeing F-18E/F for the US Navy, work is being carried out in parallel to prove the weapon for JSF use – initially for the B and C models for the USN – including these windtunnel tests.
The weapon is designed to be able to eliminate moving targets in all weather conditions, and the testing in April and May saw scaled versions of the aircraft and weapon used to test the lift, drag and side forces of the SDB II at different angles of attack.
Validation testing for the F-15 is currently being completed, ahead of operational testing that will start in the fourth quarter of 2017 and last some 12 months, Mike Heyser, business development lead for the weapon, told Flight Daily News.
It is expected to become operational on the F-15 around late 2018 or early 2019, and Heyser hopes that the SDB II can be dropped from an F-35 around 2021 under the aircraft’s Block 4 software rollout.