After the US Air Force recently announced its F-35A fifth-generation fighter had completed its first full weapon system demonstration with the B61-12 guided nuclear bomb, the service has now released video footage of the event.
The test versions of the nuclear bombs were released by the F-35As as part of their nuclear certification process on September 21, but the video footage was released a month later.
The video shows the fifth-generation fighter releasing the bomb from its internal bay, as well as the bomb’s rocket motors igniting and sending it into a longitudinal spin before impacting the ground at Tonopah Test Range.
It should be noted that the F-35A previously became the first aircraft to release the B61 from an internal bomb bay at supersonic speed in late 2020.
As we wrote in an earlier story on the nuclear certification trials, the process is broken into two phases: nuclear design certification and nuclear operational certification. The September test is considered the graduation flight test exercise for the F-35A nuclear design certification and concludes on-aircraft testing for the initial nuclear certification effort.
With the test flights now completed, the Pentagon and the Department of Energy will now analyze and review test data received from this event to ensure the F-35A and B61-12 JTAs performed correctly throughout all phases of the operation.
The Pentagon hasn’t released a date for full F-35A nuclear certification in support of real-world operations, only those units with a nuclear mission will be given the hardware and manpower necessary to configure and maintain nuclear capable F-35s.