18:43 GMT07 August 2020
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    The troubled Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter-bomber, the most expensive combat aircraft in history, will finally test its capability to drop a bomb on target in February or March, according to US media.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The F-35 program is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over its 55-year lifespan, making it the most expensive US weapons program.

    “In February or early March, a combat-coded F-35A from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB [Air Force Base] will release an inert, laser-guided bomb at the nearby Utah Test and Training Range,” Flight Global reported on Tuesday.

    If the test is successful, it will be a “monumental achievement” for the multinational F-35 program, which Lockheed Martin has been prime contractor on since it was awarded the US Air Force’s Joint Strike Fighter contract in 2001, the online report noted.

    “A stealthy, jet-powered combat aircraft is nothing if it cannot put weapons on a target, and this GBU-12 Paveway II release will be a moment of truth for the conventional A-model, which until now only released weapons in development and operational testing,” Flight Global said.

    The F-35 jets are designed to operate in formation so the squadron will begin practicing “four-ship” combat tactics in March, where four airborne F-35s will train together, the report explained.


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