March 8, 2007 (by SrA Jason Hernandez) - The 411th Flight Test Squadron began integration testing of the F-22A Raptor and the GBU-39/B Small-Diameter Bomb here in February.
An F-22A Raptor flies Feb. 2, 2007, with four Small Diameter Bombs on board. Pilots and engineers from the F-22 Combined Test Force were performing load tests to ensure the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb system does not exceed structural load boundaries for the Raptor. [Photo by Darin Russell]
The weapon is a low-cost, stand-off, next generation precision strike weapon, capable of flying autonomously.
The bomb is guided by an inertial navigation system with global positioning system updates, said Jeff Randolph, flight test engineer for The Boeing Company's Small Diameter Bomb program here.
"When the Air Force wants to increase the capability of an aircraft here, they ask for us to put together a test plan specifically for Edwards," said Brad Jackson, Performance Engineer for Lockheed Martin F-22 Flight Test Center Combined Test Force. The test plan explains the test program and what it is geared to accomplish. Then it is evaluated to assure the safety of the program.
Less aircraft and pilots are lost because of this process, Mr. Jackson said.
Integrating the F-22's stealth and speed and the small-diameter bomb's autonomous standoff capability enables the warfighter to launch a small-diameter bomb more than 60 nautical miles from the target, Mr. Jackson said.
The 250-pound class small-diameter bomb takes target information from the aircraft and flies using an onboard computer after release from the aircraft
"The small diameter bomb with its four-place carriage enables four times the targets to be destroyed on an F-22 sortie while reducing collateral damage around those targets," Mr. Randolph said.
The 500 to 2,000-pound bombs normally used by the Air Force are less practical against a military target located in a city because they may damage homes and cause civilian casualties, Mr. Randolph said. The 250-pound SDB weapon increases the warfighters capabilities by allowing less aircraft to carry more weapons that can be used where other weapons cannot be.
Four SDBs and its BRU-61 carriage can be loaded in each weapon bay of the Raptor, Mr. Randolph said. This enables the F-22 to carry a total of eight SDB weapons in addition to two AMRAAMs.
"The F-22 is the premier Air Force fighter so it is beneficial to give it the air-to-ground capability," Mr. Randolph said. "This capability allows the aircraft to establish air superiority and also perform strike missions. The whole purpose of this testing is to integrate the SDB with the F-22 for operational use."
Future integration tests include separation tests of the small diameter bomb from an F-22.