Photo: Lockheed Martin F-35's first mission with external weapons

On Feb. 16, 2012, an F-35A aircraft from Edwards AFB, California, flew for the first time with external weapons.

Although no weapons were delivered during the sortie, the payload of the Joint Strike Fighter’s Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) variant in this test mission included two AIM-9X air-to-air missiles on the outboard wing stations, two internal 2,000-pound GBU-31 GPS-guided bombs and two AIM-120 AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles) inside the two internal weapon bays.

The F-35 had also four external pylons that can carry 2,000-lb air-to-ground weapons.

The 5th Generation multirole fighter is designed to carry up to 18,000 pounds on 10 weapon stations featuring four weapon stations inside two weapon bays, for maximum stealth capability, and an additional three weapon stations on each wing.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin by Paul Weatherman

Along with the B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant, the CTOL one was selected by Italy to replace the Air Force’s Tornado and AMX bombers.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.