The U.S. Air Force’s 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron (28 TES) conducted a Force Development Evaluation to operationally test the BLU-136 Next Generation Area Attack Weapon (NGAAW) from July 8-24, 2020 at the Nellis Test and Training Range.
The FDE consisted of seven missions flown by the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, successfully dropping ten BLU-136s from F-16 Fighting Falcons. The fragmentation of the BLU-136 is non-explosive, making it a less-hazardous alternative to cluster munitions.
“The operational tests were designed to gather data to determine the operational performance of the BLU-136, specifically in the areas of blast and fragmentation damage,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Lambert, 28th TES Global Strike division chief. “This data will help decision makers determine if the BLU-136 is a viable substitute for the Air Force’s fleet of cluster bombs.”
The tests proved that the design of the BLU-136 was effective in area denial and would be very effective against light vehicles, light structures, and personnel. They also showed that the BLU-136 is capable of inflicting fragmentation damage on the equipment and simulated personnel targets at distances in excess of 225 ft. away from the target.
“This was a very easy test because the weapon functioned exactly as it was supposed to,” said Lambert. “All ten BLU-136s dropped as they should and met or exceeded all expectations and requirements.”
The BLU-136 is a 2000-pound class bomb body with form factor and mass properties similar to the BLU-109. When combined with the joint direct attack munition tail kit, the BLU-136 is designated as the GBU-31v11.
“The loading of the weapons and delivery of the BLU-136/GBU-31v11 was the same as any other JDAM loading or delivery for the F-16, thus proving that if/when fielded, the weapon will be virtually ready from day one,” said Lambert. “This also means that the delivery of the GBU-31v11 from any other aircraft will likely require little to no changes in loading or delivery tactics.”
“Despite the challenges of operating in a COVID-19 restricted environment, the FDE was on time and successful,” said Lt. Col Matt Olson, commander, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron. “This test is just another great example of the Scorpion’s ability to rise to any challenge, and I could not be prouder of the team that was able to bring this important capability to the Combat Air Force!”