In another step forward for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, Lockheed Martin said Monday that an F-35A test aircraft completed the first aerial weapons release of an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) from a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft last week.
The convetional takeoff and landing aircraft, known as AF-1, jettisoned the instrumented AIM-120 over the China Lake test range from an internal weapons bay. It was the second in-flight weapons release in three days for AF-1. It released a 2,000 pound guided bomb on Oct. 16.
The F-35A, the version being built for the Air Force and most foreign buyers, is designed to carry a total payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations. The F-35A features four internal weapon launch stations located in weapon bays to maximum stealth capability. It can carry both bombs and air-to-air missiles internally, as well as on three external weapon stations per wing.