WASHINGTON — For the first time, a US Air Force F-35 fighter jet has successfully fired its internal gun from the air.
The F-35A completed the test during an Oct. 30 flight at Edwards Air Force Base, California, the JPO announced in a joint statement Monday. This was the first in a series of flight tests to evaluate the in-flight operation of the plane's internal gun.
The gun system will be tested further next year with a production F-35A for integration with the jet's full mission systems capabilities, according to the JPO. The test team will demonstrate the gun's effectiveness in both air-to-air and air-to-ground employment.
The F-35 gun will be operational in 2017, at the end of the program's system development and demonstration phase, the JPO said.
"The successful aerial gun test sortie was a culmination of several years' planning, which intensified in the first half of 2015 at the Edwards F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) Flight Test Squadron with a team of Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman personnel," said Mike Glass, Edwards ITF flight test director, according to the statement. "The results of this testing will be used in future blocks of testing, where the accuracy and mission effectiveness capabilities will be evaluated."