F-35A conducts first external weapons test
Lockheed Martin has announced today that the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A Lightning II has conducted its first external weapons test mission. On missions where stealth isn’t such a high priority, F-35 is able to carry external weapons loads like fourth-generation fighters of today. The first external weapons test was conducted at Edwards Air Force Base in California, and is a further expansion of the flight test envelope for the aircraft. The test had the F-35 carrying two air-to-air AIM-9X missiles on outboard wing stations.
The aircraft also carried a pair of 2,000 pound guided bombs internally.
Those internal bombs were the GBU-31 model and the test flight included a pair of AIM-120 missiles loaded inside the dual internal weapon bays. The aircraft did not launch any weapons during the mission.
This also wasn’t a full load out for the F-35A; fully loaded the fighter is designed to carry up to 18,000 pounds of ordnance. The F-35A can support a maximum of 10 weapons stations; three are located under each wing and each of two internal bays has two weapons stations.
Last week, it was announced that Italy would be reducing its order of F-35 aircraft by 41 units at the same time it was revealed that the U.S. is banking on international orders to keep costs down.
In addition, Vice Adm. David Venlet had previously called for slowdown in the production of the F-35, but an acceleration in the flight testing schedule.
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