This shouldn’t be news with more than a 100 aircraft of the type in production, but it is: a USMC Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II for the first time ever dropped a laser-guided weapon right on target this week, confirmed a spokesperson of the US Marine Corps.
The destruction of a tank 25,000 feet below with a 500 pound GBU-12 Paveway II (Guided Bomb Unit) marks the first time ever a F-35 aka Joint Strike Fighter actually performed this valuable combat action. The F-35B took off from Edwards AFB in California, piloted by Marine Corps Major Richard Rusnok. The Paveway hit its target 35 seconds after release from the initial weapons bay.
A F-35C did release a weapon in flight last week from NAS Patuxtent River in Maryland, but that was a so-called dry run. The US Marines will be the first combat force worldwide that will have the F-35 partially operational (IOC), somewhere in 2015 they hope.
Source: USMC with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger