Mini Milestone

For the first time, an F-22 flying at supersonic speed released a small diameter bomb during a test July 11 at Edwards AFB, Calif. The safe-separation test was part of the ongoing activities of Edwards’ 411th Flight Test Squadron to integrate the 250-pound-class SDB, which Boeing builds, on the new stealth fighter. The supersonic exercise followed eight separation tests at subsonic speeds. The Edwards test team plans more releases of unguided rounds at supersonic speeds, with incremental increases in the host aircraft’s altitude and speed. Thereupon, testers will begin dropping SDBs fitted with the bomb’s GPS-aided guidance package. Currently the F-15E is the only platform cleared to drop the SDB in combat. USAF wants its fleet of F-22s able to use the SDBs by early next decade. The F-22 will be able to carry eight SDBs in its main internal weapons bay. Raptors today can carry two 1,000-pound joint direct attack munitions and deploy them at subsonic or supersonic speed. (Includes Edwards report by SrA. Julius Delos Reyes)