An F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet with the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base released the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator at an elevation of 35,000 feet on Oct. 7, the military branch announced on Wednesday.
This marked the end of a test series planned by the 780th Test Squadron, which included the first-ever weapons load, flight, and release of this bomb. The three-part test sought to demonstrate whether the F-15E could safely release it.
The Armament Directorate's Direct Attack Division deemed the test series a success.
"An advantage to the modeling and simulation to design approach used is that early prototypes are production representative," James Culliton, GBU-72 program manager, said. "This helps us bring our operational test partners in sooner with eyes-on, hands-on participation, validating our design and procedures sooner while including input that improves the weapon. The collaboration we've enjoyed with the 780th TS and 40th FLTS to this end has been the best I've experienced in acquisitions."
Culliton also noted that the 5,000-pound bomb should have a "substantially higher [lethality] compared to similar legacy weapons like the GBU-28.
The squadron also did a ground test series in which the warhead is detonated while surrounded by blast pressure sensors and fragment-counting equipment, which are designed to help determine the weapon's lethality.
The ground test series was the largest-ever arena test, more than doubling the previous record-holder.
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