On Jun. 5, an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft completed the first in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 C5 AAVI (AMRAAM Air Vehicle Instrumented) over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range.
According to the U.S. Air Force’s statement: “It was the first launch where the F-35 and AIM-120 demonstrated a successful launch-to-eject communications sequence and fired the rocket motor after launch — paving the way for targeted launches in support of the Block 2B fleet release capability later this year.”
Image credit: Lockheed Martin
The first AIM-120 launch is just the last of a series of events that have marked the development of the F-35 in the last years, which included the beginning of pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the delivery of the first operational test aircraft to Edwards, Nellis Air Force Base, the induction of the world’s first JSF operational squadron at Yuma, the first operational aerial refueling, the (unimpressive) high angle of attack testing, a series of engine problems, the beginning of the “maneuverability dispute.”