Photo: F-35A completes first aerial refueling with inert AIM-9X, JDAM and AMRAAM weapons.

On Saturday, Apr. 21, an F-35A Lightning II CTOL (conventional takeoff and landing aircraft) operating from Edwards AFB, achieved the first in-flight refueling mission from an Air Force’s KC-10 while configured with external weapons.

Piloted by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. George Schwartz,  the test aircraft, known as AF-4, flew with two external inert AIM-9X weapons and four external stores. Even if they are not visible in the picture, internally, the jet was carrying two Joint Direct Attack Munitions and two Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles.

During the 2-hour mission tested the flying qualities of the aircraft while maneuvering with external weapons. Weapons separation testing will begin later this year.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

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David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.