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F-35A Joint Strike Fighter straps on its missiles

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February 22, 2012

An F-35A Joint Strike Fighter with an external weapons load (Photo: Paul Weatherman at Lockheed-Martin)

An F-35A Joint Strike Fighter with an external weapons load (Photo: Paul Weatherman at Lockheed-Martin)

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The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter, intended primarily for the U.S. Air Force short range fighter role. These single-seat single-engine fifth-generation fighters are designed to carry out air defense, ground attack, and recon missions.

February 16, 2012 marked the first flight of the F-35A carrying an external load of two Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The F-35A also had four additional external weapons pylons which are capable of carrying 2,000-pound (907-kg) air-to-ground weapons.

The F-35A additionally carried an internal weapons load of two GBU-31 2,000-pound bombs with GPS-assisted inertial navigation systems and two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles with inertial navigation and close-in radar guidance. These were accompanied by an internal GAU-22/A cannon - the four barrel version of the GAU-12 Equalizer 25mm Gatling rotary cannon. The cannon is supplied with 180 25mm rounds that can be fired at a rate of 55 rounds/second.

This first successful test with external weaponry will be followed by tests involving different loads intended for different types of missions. Live firing testing will begin at a later date.

Source: Lockheed Martin

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Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer. All articles by Brian Dodson
17 Comments

Screw this plane. Lockheed Martin: U.S. taxpayers want their money back.

Christian Breiding

re; Christian Breiding Speak for your self.

Despite everything the left has done to this country it is still worth defending, and despite their claims to the contrary our existing inventory is not the best the world has to offer. Plus they are wearing out. Besides it is not military spending that is breaking the bank. I think that we should buy more F-35s than planned and double the number of F-22s.

Slowburn

hey slowburn, how about the billions we waste in aid to countries like Egypt, Israel, yadda, this plane is a MONEY TOILET like the really "successful" F111,( look it up) sorry gotta agree with Christian six weapon pylons? what crap, six? shoots its wad in six seconds and has to leave,, what a joke

Bill Bennett

Thank you Slowburn. Never mind the teenyboppers... we all knew everything at their age. Gotta laugh at the six pylons comment - it would fool your little sister into thinking you were a boy genius however.

Todd Dunning

Its reading comprehension time, BB. \"The F-35A additionally carried an internal weapons load of two GBU-31 2,000-pound bombs with GPS-assisted inertial navigation systems and two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles with inertial navigation and close-in radar guidance. These were accompanied by an internal GAU-22/A cannon - the four barrel version of the GAU-12 Equalizer 25mm Gatling rotary cannon.\" I hope that they get the wrinkles sorted out with this one, it looks like a great plane.

Alan Belardinelli

external stores negate the stealth characteristics

Doug Gardner

Christian, if Obama gets his way that\'s exactly what will happen. He wants to put every aircraft engineer, technician and pilot out of work, civilian or military, and then use the money for what? Increased welfare benefits?

PeetEngineer

re; Doug Gardner

After you have taken down the enemy\'s radar an increased radar cross-section doesn\'t matter.

Slowburn

Atleast the A version is moving forward, the faster this program moves, with the most possible fighter, less the cost burden. But costs are no issue to the USA sincere it\'s economy is a war economy. Military means: 1. Jobs, employment 2. Industry 3. Overall defence and security of the country 4. Research and development, with military technology having civilian application like advanced prosthetics for the disabled and better next generation drugs. 5. Integration of communications, economy, society and security net. 6. Profits in capitalist environment. 7. Maintenance of competitiveness in the international stage and global reach. And much much more! The war economy rocks.

Dawar Saify

Why not just build a pilotless platform that, once empty of weapons and fuel, makes one last statement by impacting its target at max speed? Can\'t be much more expensive than the weapons themselves. Not sure why we need more than one or two pilots per multi-aircraft mission?

Mirmillion

re; Mirmillion

Ever notice that most the gamers who PK do it because it presents more of a challenge than killing bots.

Slowburn

RE- Bill Bennett

The unsuccessful F111? Are you kidding? It has the best record of any operational aircraft during Desert Storm. Credited with well over a thousand tank kills. It also dropped more than half of all the smart bombs during the conflict. Get your facts straight.

As for the F-35...as has been said, our current fighters will be wearing out. Replace them.

VoiceofReason

Defense spending in 2011 via all departments (even EPA was forced to budget defense related spendign) was over $1 Trilllion, or about equal to the rest of the world combined. What do we get for our money? A stealth-figher that can\'t handle moisture on it\'s skin (F-22) and another that isn\'t even stealth at all thanks to it\'s need to carry external weapons to be of any use. Let\'s stick with F-16s and F-18s that cost a fraction as much and fly circles around the F-35. I\'d even advocate updating the F-15 with modern electronics and engines. It\'s a solid airframe that can easily outfly the F-35. Then again, so does the F-4 Phantom.

Kumi Alexander

Do you Americans have nothing better to comment on this technology website than your own political crap? If you can't say something intelligent related to the technology, just shut up and have your political fighting somewhere else. You make yourself look like idiots to the rest of your nation.

Peet Smit

It would be utopian to ask that this will lead to peace.

Guillermo Martin

re; Mark Cleaner

Stealth makes up for a lot and the F-35B makes up for more.

Slowburn

Dawar Saify, Uh, you mean cruise missiles? Yeah we have had those for decades. Why don't we use those before you start crashing multi-billion dollar assets? The reason for the F35 and F22 programs, besides bad-assery, is the cost effectiveness of the maintenance programs over continued maintenance of an out-of-production fleet. You ever see the full list of active US aircraft?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_United_States_military_aircraft

V-4-Vendetta
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