Norway F-35A JSM completes phase of testing with USAF team supportNews
June 18, 2018
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. Norway's F-35A Joint Strike Missile (JSM) completed testing by a team of U.S. Air Force engineers, test pilots, and Norwegian government and industry personnel from the 416th Test Flight Squadron.
Testing on the F-35A - done prior to integration testing - was conducted at the Air Force Base (AFB) on F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 416th Flight Test Squadron. “The F-16 is a much more proven and mature platform in terms of technology development,” says Collin Drake, 416th FLTS JSM project engineer. “The F-35 is still undergoing its own technology development and design iterations, which brings its own challenges. It made it a lot more efficient and effective to use F-16s to be able to test mid-cycle a new type of weapon.”
According to Drake, testing included multiple variants of the JSM that increased in complexity and capability throughout the course of the program with the first JSM being a glide-only weapon with an active autopilot, but without a live engine. The next several tests used a version of the JSM that still did not have a warhead, but had a live engine and navigation avionics. The different variants proved the JSM could sustain extended periods of flight under its own power and successfully navigate over different terrain.
All variants of the JSM were inert until the final flight test events where it actually hit a target with full mission systems software and guidance. Throughout the test program, numerous software and hardware changes and updates were made. All live releases of the weapon were conducted at the Utah Test and Training Range.
Drake mentions the weapons development program at Edwards began in 2015. The JSM missile system was matured and proven with ground testing, captive carriage testing (flight test missions to ensure the weapon would perform its designed functions prior to being released from the aircraft), and live-drop testing to verify the JSM’s ability to be safely released from the aircraft and perform its autonomous functions.
“The weapons ranges needed simply don’t exist in Norway. So they were able to come here and utilize the Edwards airspace and ground test facilities for the captive carriage flight and ground testing. The 416th FLTS has a long and storied history of testing systems with our foreign partners, especially with Norway. Norway has been a partner in F-16 development since its inception, so it was a natural fit to work with the Norwegian Ministry of Defense to make this technology development program a reality. The 416th is equipped to provide flight test expertise and is adaptable to accommodate the testing of first-of-its-kind hardware and software, such as that of the Joint Strike Missile,” said Drake.
Norway officials will integrate the JSM F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as the next step, followed by further weapons and integration testing.