Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force 388th Fighter Wing's 34th Fighter Squadron out of Hill Air Force Base successfully tested the GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II 500 pound guided bomb on a F-35A Lightning II in a combat exercise for the first time.
The evaluations took place at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., during weapons exercise Combat Hammer against multiple target types.
"It's a really flexible weapon," Lt. Col. Matthew Johnston said in a press release. "It was reliable, accurate, and effective."
"Like any new weapon, what we learned, and what we will learn as we continue to train with the GBU-49, will directly impact our tactics and will make the F-35A even more lethal," Johnson said.
The exercise evaluated ordnance crews and pilot readiness in their ability to maintain and mount the bombs onto the F-35A, as well as the weapon's strike performance.
"In a normal Hammer, you've dropped these weapons a hundred times in live training and you're validating the process," said 388th FW director of staff Lt. Col. Michael Albrecht. "This was our first time with this particular weapon. The pilots communicated well, and every day shared things from sortie to sortie that refined our tactics."
Hill AFB is planned to base three F-35 fighter squadrons totaling 78 aircraft by the end of 2019 under the 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings.
The GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II is a dual-mode GPS and laser-guided 500 pound bomb designed for attacking both stationary and moving targets. It is an improved derivative of the laser-guided GB-10 Paveway II.
The bomb will give the F-35 the ability to strike moving ground targets using precision guided munitions. Other weapons systems such as the Joint Air-to-Ground missile for attacking mobile targets are expected to enter initial operating capability starting next year.