US Naval Air Warfare Center adapts loader for F-35B weapons

US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst have modified Support Equipment that they say now gives the F-35B Lightning II more capability.

It is understood that when the US Marine Corps chose the Guided Bomb Unit (GBU)-49 weapon system for the F-35B, they needed a piece of modified support equipment to load the weapon onto the aircraft, according to a news release on this story.

“The GBU-49 provides new capability that will enable the F-35B to engage moving ground targets. However, the conduit on the GBU-49 did not fit the current weapons loader, until a team from NAWCAD Lakehurst modified the adapter, the ADU-894A/E, and delivered it to the Marines Corps on schedule in November.”

“The teams at Lakehurst and Patuxent River, Maryland, did a fantastic job in finding a solution to a fleet problem quickly,” said Kathleen P. Donnelly, director of the Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) SE and Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) engineering department in the release.

“Their hard work and ingenuity has led to an increase in capabilities and improved lethality of our forward deployed Marines.”

In February 2018, the NAWCAD Lakehurst Airborne Weapons Support Equipment (AWSE) branch was tasked by the NAVAIR Direct Attack Weapons program office to develop an adapter that could not only provide loading capability for the GBU-49, but for all MK-82 bombs to be loaded on the F-35B.

The goal was to develop, test, build and deliver the adapters within nine months.

The team designed a modified adapter in their lab, and worked with NAWCAD Lakehurst’s Prototyping and Manufacturing Division (PMD) to build a prototype that they have now tested and report that it works.