F-35C targeting system guides weapon to moving target

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The F-35 Integrated Test Force recently performed another first-of-its-kind test when the aircraft released a laser-guided bomb against a moving target.

An F-35C being tested released a specially built GBU-12 Paveway II guided bomb on March 29 over a controlled range at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in the California desert, successfully engaging a small pickup truck.

According to engineer Collin O’Fallon of the 775th Flight Test Squadron, this F-35 weapons delivery accuracy test was the first from an F-35 in the 3F software configuration, which has incorporated new release logic to enhance effectiveness against moving targets, with the objective of reducing pilot workload. O’Fallon is matrixed to the 461st Flight Test Squadron “Deadly Jesters” for the testing.

“This logic is called Lead Point Compute, which in essence, delays the release point of the weapon to ensure the weapon has the available kinematics to guide to and reach the target at its future location,” O’Fallon said.

The system evaluates the speed and direction of the target against the altitude and speed of the aircraft to determine the exact release.

“The higher and faster you go, the farther you can sling the thing,” O’Fallon said.

“(The pilot) doesn’t have to think about how fast the target’s going, or what direction,” O’Fallon added. “By him using this 3F capability, it’s doing all the weaponeering for him. That’s really the big thing, it’s a single-seat fighter. He’s got to do it all, so we want to do as much for him as we can.”

Although the GBU-12 was inert, it still made short work of its intended target.

April 27, 2017

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With over 20 years experience in editorial management and content creation for multiple, market-leading titles at UKi Media & Events (publisher of Aerospace Testing International), one of the UK's fastest growing publishing companies, Anthony has written articles and news covering everything from aircraft, airports and cars, to cruise ships, trains, trucks and even tires!

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