The F-35 Lightning II executed its first live-fire launch of a guided air-to-air missile over a military test range off the California coast on Oct. 30.
The AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) was fired from an F-35A (AF-6) conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant fighter operating from the F-35 Integrated Test Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
The test pilot, Air Force Captain Capt. Logan Lamping employed the AIM-120 radar-seeking missile from the F-35′s internal weapons bay against an aerial drone target in restricted military sea test range airspace. Test data and observers confirmed the F-35 identified and targeted the drone with its mission systems sensors, passed the target “track” information to the missile, and launched the AIM-120 from the aircraft to engage the target drone. After launch, the missile successfully acquired the target and followed an intercept flight profile. Moments before the missile was about to destroy the target, a self-destruct signal was sent to the AIM-120 in order to preserve the aerial drone for use in future tests.