F-35C carrier variant JSF drops first AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)

The F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 conducted the first weapons separation test of an AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) from an F-35C Lightning II carrier variant March 23. During flight 180 over the NAVAIR Atlantic Test Ranges, Cmdr. Ted Dyckman, a U.S. Navy F-35 test pilot, dropped an inert JSOW from aircraft CF-05. This test is the first of a series of JSOW separation events scheduled for 2016. U.S. Navy courtesy photo by Dane Wiedmann.

The F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force conducted the first weapons separation test of an AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) from an F-35C.

On Mar. 23, during flight 180 over the NAVAIR Atlantic Test Ranges, Cmdr. Ted Dyckman, a U.S. Navy F-35 test pilot, dropped an inert JSOW from aircraft CF-05 assigned to the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 of the F-35 Lightning II Pax River ITF joint team, aboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

The test marked the first non-Mk 80 series bomb ever released from an F-35 Lightning II and according to the Navy (highlight mine): “The JSOW safely separated from an internal weapons bay within the F-35C carrier variant, thereby maintaining the stealth characteristics of the aircraft. […] The team will release additional JSOWs throughout 2016. Working on the multi-phase testing of the F-35 Block 3F capabilities, are U.S. government, military and contractor personnel, and industry partners from Raytheon Systems Ltd.”

AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) is the name a family of low-cost, air-to-surface cruise missiles that employ an integrated GPS-INS system and thermal imaging IR seeker.

With an operational range of up to 130 km (when launched from high-altitude), the JSOW has been used in combat during Operation Desert Fox, Operation Southern Watch, NATO Operation Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.