Jan 20, 2016 00:20 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
The F-35 program will face one of its first live test challenges when a combat-coded F-35A will release an inert, laser-guided bomb at the Utah Test and Training Range between February and March. The releasing of the GBU-12 Paveway II will be the first one conducted outside of development or operational testing, and will mark a milestone in the development of a program plagued by delays, redesigns and spiraling costs. The full compliment of weapons will not arrive until late 2017. Until then, the Air Force will first operate with basic laser and GPS-guided weapons, as well as beyond-visual-range AIM-120 air-to-air missiles. It will also have advanced targeting, surveillance and radar-jamming equipment.
GBU-12 Paveway II
The Laser Guided Bombs (LGB) were introduced in 1968 to meet the requirements for precision guided bombs of the US military. The semi-active LGBs home on reflected laser beam energy directed on the target. The target illumination can be done by the launching aircraft, by a third aircraft or by ground-based troops operating a laser designator. The LGBs are in fact a laser guidance kit applicable to current conventional unguided bombs. United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) was the first operator to drop Paveway II bombs in combat during the conflict of the Falklands in 1982.
The Laser Guided Bombs have reduced the number of weapons requested to destroy a single target while enhancing accuracy, reliability and cost-effectiveness in strike missions. The LGBs were introduced during Vietnam and afterward they have been employed over Panama, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. The United States and 31 nations of the world have ordered Paveway bombs and more than 125,000 Paveway II kits have been produced to date.
The GBU-12 Paveway II consists of a MK-82 500 pound (250 kg) bomb with an added laser guidance package. This bomb is suitable against small, hardened targets such as battle tanks and other armored vehicles. This bomb also features a reduced collateral damage probability due to its lightweight warhead.
Despite the original contractor for the Paveway II LGB bomb was Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin began assembly Paveway II laser guidance kits in the early years of the 21st century in support of the Global War on Terror and the military campaigns in Iraq (Iraqi Freedom 2003-20??) and Afghanistan (Enduring Freedom 2001). As of September 2005, Lockheed Martin had delivered more than 25,000 guidance kits for the GBU-10, GBU-12 and GBU-16 guided-precision bombs.
Diameter: 270 millimeter (10.6 inch)
Length: 3.33 meter (131 inch)
Wingspan: 1.32 meter
CEP: 9 meter
Max Range: 14,800 meter (7.99 nautical mile)
Warhead: 87 kilogram (192 pound)
Weight: 277 kilogram (611 pound)