Ahead of the US Air Force’s decision to declare their variant of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II combat ready, the Joint Strike Program announced the successful testing of the jet’s air-to-air missiles.
During testing on July 28, Air Force F-35A test pilot Maj. Raven LeClair identified a drone target and fired an air-t0-air missile from the external wing to engage it over restricted military airspace off the coast of California.
“It’s been said you don’t really have a fighter until you can actually hit a target and we crossed that threshold with the first air-to-air weapon delivery of an AIM-9X,” LeClair said following the successful exercise.
The F-35A is equipped with two short-range, heat-seeking AIM-9X missiles on its wings, as well as a General Dynamics GAU-22/ 25mm Gatling gun and two 2,000-pound GBU-31 JDAM guided bombs.
Even though the Air Force is currently operating the oldest fleet in its history, it’s the last of the sister service branches to declare its F-35 variant combat ready.
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