15:07 GMT01 December 2020
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    Just a little more than two months after the Pentagon requested a shovel-ready, non-developmental 500-pound bomb for the F-35, all variants of the joint strike fighter have tested the GBU-12 that will soon be certified as part of the jet’s weapons package – and the pilot hardly even needs to think about releasing it.

    The bomb is equipped with a “new release logic” to allow the pilot of the single-seat F-35 to focus on a multitude of other things, said Collin O’Fallon of the 775th Flight Test Squadron in an Air Force statement. 

    New software allows the characteristics of a moving target, like velocity, to determine the precise time at which the payload needs to be fired, the Air Force said.

    “This logic is called Lead Point Compute,” O’Fallon explained. The “logic” of the firing system “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,” he said. 

    “The pilot doesn’t have to think about how fast the target’s going, or what direction,” he continued. With the new software incorporated into the F-35 weapon suite, “it’s doing all the weaponeering for him,” O’Fallon added. 

    The GBU-12 has been in service for years, but was only added to the F-35 once the Pentagon decided it needed a weapon to eliminate moving targets. The GBU-12 was deployed on March 29 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Though the bomb was “inert,” it made quick work of its target, a remote controlled pickup truck. 

    The F-35 carries 3,500 pounds of bombs when flying in stealth mode and 18,000 pounds of firepower on other missions. The weapons suite features a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, a 350-pound precision guided weapon, AIM-132 short range air-to-air missiles and Paveway IV missiles.


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    F-35, US Air Force, Collin O'Fallon, California
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