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F-35 Fighter Jet Drops Its First Laser-Guided Bomb in Test

Image: F-35 Fighter Jet Drops Its First Laser-Guided Bomb in Test

By Michael Mullins   |   Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 11:10 AM

The F-35 Fighter Jet has dropped its first guided bomb against a ground target during a training exercise at California's Edwards Air Force Base on Tuesday.

The F-35B Fighter Jet was flying at approximately 25,000 feet, Reuters reported, when it dropped the 500-pound, laser-guided bomb onto a parked tank the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

The bomb took 35 seconds from when it was launched to hit the target.

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"This guided weapons delivery test of a GBU-12 marks the first time the F-35 truly became a weapon system," said Marine Corps Major Richard Rusnok, the pilot who flew the plane during the weapons test Tuesday. "It represents another step forward in development of this vital program."

Last week, the Navy variant of the new fighter jet, F-35C, released its first weapon during testing at Naval Air Station Patuxtent River in southern Maryland, Reuters noted.

Next month, the military will reportedly test the F-35's ability to drop a 1,000-pound bomb.

The F-35 Fighter Jet is a "fifth-generation" warplane designed and produced by the Maryland-based aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin in a joint venture with the Pentagon.

The new fighter jet will be replacing the popular F-16 and more than a dozen other warplanes that are currently in-use by foreign governments around the world.

As of September, the U.S. partner countries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Denmark, Israel, and Japan have already ordered F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.

The joint strike fighter jet is expected to be operable in 2015, when it will phase out and eventually replace the Marine Corp's F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier jets, both of which are Cold War-era aircrafts.

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The Pentagon's top arms buyer, Frank Kendall, this week said the F-35 program had made sufficient progress to budget for higher production in fiscal year 2015, but said he remained concerned about progress on the jet's software, reliability and a computer-based logistics system, Reuters reported.

Having started more than 10 years ago, the fighter's development has cost $392 billion to date, despite having had an original price tag of $233 billion.

The ballooning cost was a result of delays and cost overruns, the Associated Press reported, noting that the F-35 Fighter Jet's development is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program ever.

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