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Marine Corps Hot Loads F-35B With Laser-Guided Bombs

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f-35b-hot-loadingThe U.S. Marine Corps has loaded an F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Guided Bomb Units-12 aerial laser-guided bombs while the pilot was onboard and engines were running in a process called hot loading.

USMC said Saturday the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One cadre conducted the hot load exercise as part of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor 1-17 seven-week training event at Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona.

Capt. John Valdez, MAWTS-1 ordnance officer, said hot loading techniques could decrease the F-35B’s rearm time from an estimated 40 minutes to 20 minutes since the process eliminates the need to power down, cool off and restart the aircraft.

Valdez added having to power up only once a day can help reduce maintenance time since malfunctions are most likely to occur during aircraft’s initial power up.

The F-35B hot load process requires personnel on the ground to stay at least six feet away from the intake as a safety measure to address concerns, Valdez noted.

Hot load procedures will be published and distributed throughout the Marine Corps once the process is validated, the service branch noted.

Valdez aims to offer three days of cold load training and a day of hot load training ahead of future WTIs and he hopes personnel outside of MCAS-Yuma will take part in the activity.

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