The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's Lakehurst Airborne Weapons Support Equipment branch developed a weapons loader and an adapter to boost the F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft's loading capabilities. The GBU-49 loader is designed to assist the F-35B attack moving ground-based targets while an adapter attachment allows the aircraft to carry and deploy smart bombs, the U.S. Navy said Tuesday.
The team also customized an adapter unit to attach the GBU-49 to the Single Hoist Ordnance Loading System which serves as the main munition loading platform for aircraft weapons stations.
“For those airplanes that their missions are to fly ordnance, it’s our equipment that allows those 18-year-olds out there on pitching carrier decks to safely handle thousands of pounds of weapons, bring them up to an aircraft and load them up in a short time, both day and night," said David Page, program head at NAWCAD's Lakehurst AWSE branch.
The service branch completed the development, testing and production processes within nine months and delivered the adapters to the U.S. Marine Corps in November 2018.