F-35A Launches First AMRAAM

An F-35A strike fighter last week completed the aircraft type’s first in-flight launch of an AIM-120 air-to-air missile, announced testers at Edwards AFB, Calif. The launch of the AIM-120C5 instrumented air vehicle from test aircraft AF-1 took place on June 5 over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, according to Edwards’ June 6 release. Point Mugu is off the southern California coast. “It’s a testament to the entire military-industry test team. They’ve worked thousands and thousands of hours to get to this point,” said Lt. Col. George Schwartz, F-35 Integrated Test Force director at Edwards who piloted AF-1 on this test sortie. “It’s fantastic to see that it’s all paid off,” he added. This was “the first launch where the F-35 and AIM-120 demonstrated a successful launch-to-eject communications sequence and fired the [missile’s] rocket motor after launch,” paving the way for targeted launches in support of the Block 2B software release later this year, according to the release. The F-35A is slated to reach initial operating capability by December 2016. (See also Lockheed Martin release.)