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First in-flight weapons release for F-35A


October 18, 2012

A 2,000 pound GBU-31 BLU-109 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is jettisoned from the F-35A

A 2,000 pound GBU-31 BLU-109 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is jettisoned from the F-35A

Image Gallery (4 images)

After strapping on its missiles in February shortly after its first night flight, the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35A, completed its first in-flight weapons release on October 16 in a flight conducted over the China Lake test range in California.

The flight piloted by U.S. Air Force Major Eric “Doc” Shultz, saw a 2,000 pound (907 kg) instrumented GBU-31 BLU-109 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) jettisoned from the left internal weapons bay of the 5th Generation F-35A fighter known as AF-1.

To maximize its stealth capabilities, the F-35A features four internal weapons stations located in two weapons bays, but also boasts three external weapons stations per wing for a total of 10 weapons stations that are designed to allow the aircraft to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds (8,165 kg).

The F-35A is the smallest and lightest F-35 variant and is intended for use by the U.S and other air forces.

Source: Lockheed Martin

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

When stealth fighters returned to base, how does the ground radar pick any of them up?The airspace could get pretty dangerous.

Why does America need to keep producing these hugely expensive high-tech weapons, which seem to be pretty ineffective at fighting the Taliban, who are armed with AK-47s and a few rocket launchers?

Remember the complete lack of response to the 9/11 attack.Not one single fighter was launched in defence of the good old USA. Strange, that!

Some things never change, like using 'Identify Friend or Foe' (IFF) transponders. Then again, the use 'stealth' technology doesn't mean that an aircraft can't 'broadcast' (spoof) the radar signal return of another aircraft. You seem to think that assault weapons such AK-47s or rocket launchers are superior to aircraft. Apparently you've never tried to shoot down an aircraft traveling over 750 miles an hour - if not faster - using. Your first problem would be getting the aircraft in your gunsights long enough to make an effective shot. Even if you shoot as the bird passes, is YOUR ammo capable of flying faster than the fighter you are targeting? Odds are far better that you give up YOUR position and anoher aircraft in the group will get YOU. As for your comments regarding 9/11 Kevin Frothngham

@windykites1,,, the whole 911 thing simply does not pass the smell test, from the stand down orders to the way the buildings fell. The key players in that administration at that time should be prosecuted for a number of misdeeds! Just my 2 cents.


Windykites, radar picks up stealth aircraft from their transponders. All aircraft have them.

As for why America produces high-tech weapons platforms, I would suggest reading some history books.

And a "complete lack of response" to the 9/11 attack is false. Virtually every fighter aircraft in the country was mobilized, Air National Guard fighters flew cover everywhere, especially New York.

But you're forgiven for this misinformation if you're an MSNBC viewer.

Todd Dunning

@windykites1 I'm not sure what you mean when you say "Remember the complete lack of response to the 9/11 attack.Not one single fighter was launched in defence of the good old USA." If you meant to say that none of the US military efforts were sufficiently effective to prevent the hijackings and to prevent the crashing of passenger jets into buildings, then I'd agree. But that's not what you said. Many fighter jets were launched on 9/11 in defense of the 'good old USA'. I saw several of them circling Boston while the NY World Trade Center buildings burned and fell. Fighter jets continued to fly over Boston, NYC, DC and many other cities during the week after the attacks. I saw and heard many of them over Boston. So, what did you intend to say when you typed, "Remember the complete lack of response to the 9/11 attack.Not one single fighter was launched in defence of the good old USA." ?


The only problem is that after this becomes operational, radar technologies will have exceeded it, wasting a lot of money, and the production numbers don't justify it as a test bed for future air craft as it will be used as a full mainstream for many air forces. And such a high tech aircraft is not required for lesser enemies. This particularly has been too expensive. And in the near future countries are willing to sell their best air defence systems. Next, there is then high risk for using it. Losing aircraft. And too much, too expensive for the lesser enemies. Afterwards, it could cripple economies.

Dawar Saify

Air national Guard fighters were indeed scrambled the morning of 9-11. F-15C Eagles from the 102nd FW of the MAANG (Otis AFB, Cape Cod, MA) were the very first, but unfortunately didn't arrive over NYC until it was too late to intercept the 2 hijacked airliners.

Also scrambled were the F-16C Fighting Falcons of the 174th FW "Boys from Syracuse", NYANG. Same with the F-16C's of the 158th FW "Green Mountain Boys", VTANG (Burlington VT), and the F-16C's of the 177th FW "Jersey Devils" of the NJANG (Atlantic City IAP). BTW, my kid brother was a Command Pilot w/ the "Devils" and one of the first responders over NYC. He has since Retired from the NJANG as Lt. Col., after 23 years service.

I live in the mid-Hudson Valley on NY, about 100 miles north of NYC. It was very quiet here after the FAA grounded all commercial and private a/c, except the passing of F-16s (from the NYANG & VTANG Fighter Wings) very low over our small village every few hours following the attacks. We saw and heard many a fighter here, day and night, for a few months......

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