An unmodified US Marine Corps F-35B successfully demonstrated integration with the Navy’s Aegis Combat System in a live fire missile test Monday at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Acting as an elevated sensor, the F-35 detected an over-the-horizon threat and relayed data to a ground launch facility, which accurately fired on the target. The aircraft is based at the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX-1) at Edwards AFB, Fla . The exercise demonstrated the advanced sensor capabilities of the F-35 as well as its ability to partner with existing systems. “This test represents the start of our exploration into the interoperability of the F-35B with other naval assets,” said Lt. Col. Richard Rusnok, VMX-1 F-35B detachment officer in charge, in a press release. “We believe the F-35B will drastically increase the situational awareness and lethality of the naval forces with which it will deploy in the very near future,” he added. (See also: F-35 Lightning Unleashed from the September issue of Air Force Magazine.)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.