|X-32A Completes Weapons Bay Flight Testing |
X-32A Completes Weapons Bay Flight Testing
Edwards Air Force Base, California – February 5, 2001 (AFPN) -- Boeing's X-32A Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator completed its loaded-internal-weapons-bay flight testing, recently.
Lt. Col. Edward Cabrera opens the X-32A Joint Strike Fighter's weapons bay door during flight testing Jan. 26 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The X-32A has flown nearly 50 hours at Edwards and will end its flight testing there soon.
US Air Force photo
Test pilot Lt. Col. Edward Cabrera opened and cycled the weapons bay doors as part of vibration and acoustic testing during the aircraft's 61st flight, which validated design predictions of the X-32A's weapons carriage environment. For that sortie, the X-32A carried an instrumented AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile and an inert full-scale air-to-ground weapon.
Boeing designed its JSF with side-mounted weapons bays for both operational and supportability reasons.
"Side-mounted bays allow the pilot to open the bay away from enemy radar and drop a weapon without compromising the Joint Strike Fighter's low observability and the pilot's safety," said Mike Heinz, Boeing Joint Strike Fighter deputy program manager. "Our design also benefits the ground crews by allowing eye-level access to the weapons bays for maintenance and weapons loading."
The operational fighter will be able to internally carry two air-to-ground weapons and two AMRAAM missiles as a baseline load, plus a full range of other conventional weapons.
During the four-month test program here to validate JSF's predicted flying characteristics, the X-32A has completed about 45 flight hours. Commonality has been a primary objective in this program phase.
To underscore the commonality of its JSF design, Boeing is using the X-32A to demonstrate both the aircraft carrier variant and conventional takeoff and landing variant handling qualities, without any aircraft modifications or changes.
With the X-32A, Boeing completed required carrier low-speed approach handling qualities testing Dec. 2 and then moved on to demonstrate key CTOL performance capabilities, including supersonic flight before the end of the year.