Photo: F-35’s first in-flight weapon release (of a huge 2,000 pound GBU-31 JDAM)

On Oct. 16, a conventional take off and landing (CTOL) version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, completed the first weapon drop, releasing a huge 2,000 pound GBU-31 BLU-109 warhead Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

Flown by U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Phillips, the F-35A AF-1, dropped the bomb over the China Lake test range from the left internal weapons bay.

The F-35A is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations, four of those are internal to maximize the aircraft’s stealthiness (obviously, anything carried on the six underwing pylons make the aircraft a bit less radar evading…).

Image credit: Lockheed Martin photo by Matt Short

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.