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Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter aircraft completes first in-flight missile launch of AIM-120 0906132

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World Aviation Industry News - Lockheed Martin
 
 
Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter aircraft completes first in-flight missile launch of AIM-120.
 
An F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft completed the first in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 during tests held Wednesday over Point Mugu Sea Test Range. The flight of Lockheed Martin's F-35A Air Force version, known as AF-1, was conducted by Lt. Col. George Schwartz. It marked the first launch where the F-35 and AIM-120 demonstrated a successful launch-to-eject communication sequence and fired the rocket motor after launch.
     
An F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft completed the first in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 during tests held Wednesday over Point Mugu Sea Test Range. The flight of Lockheed Martin's F-35A Air Force version, known as AF-1, was conducted by Lt. Col. George Schwartz. It marked the first launch where the F-35 and AIM-120 demonstrated a successful launch-to-eject communication sequence and fired the rocket motor after launch.
An Air Force F-35A CTOL variant launches an AIM-120 C5 AAVI (AMRAAM Air Vehicle Instrumented) missile during a live-fire test June 5 2013. (Credit: Matt Short, Lockheed Martin)
     

Air Force officials said the actions paved the way for targeted launches later this year in support of Block 2B fleet release capability.

The test is the latest milestone achieved by the F-35A. Pilot training recently began at Eglin Air Force Base and the first operational test aircraft was delivered to Edwards and Nellis Air Force Base. The AF-1 also recently completed its first operational pilot aerial refueling and high angle of attack testing.

"It's a testament to the entire military-industry test team. They've worked thousands and thousands of hours to get to this point- to where we are today," said Schwartz, who in addition to his role as a test pilot serves as the F-35 Integrated Test Force Director at Edwards. "It's fantastic to see that it's all paid off. We're rolling into a lot of additional weapons work in the coming months to put that expanded capability on the aircraft."

The F-35A is designed to carry payloads of up to 18,000 pounds and has 10 weapon stations, including four internally. The F-35A is expected to reach initial operating capability by December 2016.