The U.S. Navy's variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter recently launched its first 1,000-pound GPS-guided bomb known as the Joint Standoff Weapon, or JSOW.
The Lockheed Martin Corp.-made F-35C conducted the exercise March 23 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, according to a statement released Thursday from the F-35 program office.
A single AGM-154 air-to-surface weapon was "cleanly" released from the internal weapons bay of the single-engine fighter, designated CF-05 and designed to take off and land on aircraft carriers, according to Navy Cmdr. Ted "Dutch" Dyckman, the test pilot who conducted the mission.
A target wasn't specified, though the testing team plans to release more of the bombs during exercises in 2016. The weapon is made by Raytheon Co. and already integrated on legacy fighters including the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 and bombers such as the B-1B and B-2.
Both the Navy and Air Force have large inventories of the Joint Standoff Weapon. The Navy plans to spend $412 million in research and development funding on the weapon systems in fiscal 2017, according to Pentagon budget documents.
The latest version of the technology, known as the JSOW C-1, adds a weapon datalink radio and modified seeker software for anti-surface warfare operations. The newer version is the world's first network-enabled weapon with a range of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles), according to its manufacturer.
The F-35 is the Pentagon's largest acquisition program, estimated to cost $379 billion for a total of 2,457 aircraft and engines for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, according to recently released Pentagon acquisition report.
Eight countries have also committed to help develop the F-35, including the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway. Also, Israel, Japan and South Korea plan to buy production models of the aircraft.
Canada's commitment to buy 65 Joint Strike Fighters is uncertain in the wake of a recent change in administration that has pledged to launch a new fighter jet competition.