WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- An F-35 Lightning II has completed the fighter jet's first guided weapon delivery against ground target, marking the "first time the F-35 truly became a weapon system," the jet's maker Lockheed Martin said Wednesday.
The test was completed Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base Precision Impact Range Area in California by an F-35B short take- off and vertical landing fighter aircraft, a variant designed for the Marine Corps.
According to Lockheed Martin, the jet dropped a Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) Paveway II laser-guided weapon from the plane's internal weapons bay against a fixed ground tank test target.
The GBU-12 is a 500-pound, Mk-82 general purpose bomb mated with a nose-mounted laser seeker and flight guidance fins for precision strike. The GBU-12 used in this test did not contain explosives. The plane released its weapon from 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) and the bomb fell for 35 seconds before hitting a stationary target.
"This guided weapons delivery test of a GBU-12 marks the first time the F-35 truly became a weapon system," said Richard Rusnok, the pilot of the test. "It represents another step forward in the development of this vital program."
Last week two other advancements were made in F-35 weapons testing. On Oct. 21, at Patuxent River, Md, the Navy variant released its first weapons separation test from an F-35C and on Oct. 23 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the Air Force variant conducted the first ground release pit testing of a GBU-39 (250- pound) small diameter bomb.
The F-35 is a 5th generation fighter. The U.S. military plans to buy over 2,000 of various F-35s to replace a range of combat aircraft.