October 22, 2012 (by Laurie Quincy) - An F-35A test aircraft completed the first aerial weapons release of an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) on Oct. 19.
AF-01 releases the F-35 program's first AIM-120 AMRAAM missile over the China Lake test range on flight 255 on October 19th, 2012. Pilot was Maj Matthew 'Fuze' Phillips. [Lockheed Martin photo by Matthew Short]
The aircraft, known as AF-1, flown by U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Phillips, jettisoned the instrumented AIM-120
over the China Lake test range from an internal weapons bay.
"This is an exciting milestone and the result of intense preparation of our integrated team. It is a significant first step in delivering this capability to the U.S. Military and our international partners. The Edwards Integrated Test Force accomplished the first safe separation of an AMRAAM
from the F-35 only three days after the first separation of a GBU-31
and demonstrates the high pace we need to maintain throughout the weapons program over the next two years. The incredible support we enjoy at Edwards Air Force Base enabled this accomplishment on our first two releases." said Lt. Col. George "Boxer" Schwartz, the 461st FLTS commander and Government Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base.
"This first safe separation of the AIM-120 missile from JSF
represents the culmination of many years of careful planning by the combined government and contractor teams both inside and outside the ITF," said Gary Arnold and Eli Jones, both of whom are members of Integrated Test Force's Weapons Integration team. "It is a major milestone for the Weapons Integration team and the program as a whole. The folks that played a part in the successful execution of this mission should be proud of today's accomplishment."
This weapons separation test verified the proper release from the launcher and its release characteristics from the aircraft. This event wraps up thousands of hours from dedicated test teams to ensure its success. Details of the test were recorded by monitoring systems and the data is currently in review at the Integrated Test Force at Edwards.
This was the second in-flight weapons release in three days for AF-1 as it completed the release of a 2,000 pound GBU-31 BLU
-109 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM
) on October 16, 2012.
The F-35A 5th Generation fighter is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations. The F-35A features four internal weapon stations located in two weapon bays to maximum stealth capability. The CTOL
aircraft can also utilize an additional three weapon stations per wing if required.