Home » Air » F-35A Test Fires Live Air-to-Air Missile

F-35A Test Fires Live Air-to-Air Missile

by Mike Hoffman on November 1, 2013

JSF AMRAAMThe F-35 Lightning II took another step toward its first dog fight Wednesday when it test fired its first live guided air-to-air missile over a California test range.

The F-35, piloted by Air Force Capt. Logan Lamping, fired an AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile at the F-35 Integrated Test Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Lamping fired the missile at an aerial drone target. 

Systems inside the F-35A appropriately “identified and targeted the drone with its mission systems sensors, passed the target “track” information to the missile, and launched the AIM-120 from the aircraft to engage the target drone,” according to an Air Force release. Right before, the missile hit the target, it self destructed to keep the drone whole for future tests.

“This successful missile launch marks the first live-fire weapons test and is an initial demonstration of the air-to-air combat capability the F-35 will bring to the U.S. military and our international partners” said Charlie Wagner, weapons team lead for the F-35 Joint Program Office. “This test represents the culmination of many years of careful planning by combined government and contractor teams.  It is one test, with many more to come, to ensure operators will receive the combat capability they need to execute their mission and return home safely.”

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

freeamerica November 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Let the negative comments begin.


Ben November 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm

An army of "Yes Men" helps nobody.


majr0d November 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm

True, nor does a surplus of cynics…


Merke November 10, 2013 at 3:48 am

False, they are critical thinkers, not cynics.


Pilgrimman November 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm



Steve November 7, 2013 at 6:23 am

well its ugly … :D


Steve November 7, 2013 at 6:23 am

not really


Taylor November 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm

This looks like a great plane to me! I think my comment above was auto-deleted because I mentioned the almighty by the more common name.


Matt November 2, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Why would praising Patrick Stewart get your comment deleted?


blight_ November 3, 2013 at 7:52 am

God? Q? Muhammad? Flying Spaghetti Monster? Allah? Star-Child? David Bowman? Rama?


Ben November 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Big whoop. This should have happened years ago.

Want some real defense news? The SR-72 was just announced by Lockheed Skunkworks:


Curt November 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm

The Skunk Works announced that they could begin development in 2018 after the technology is proven leading to a working product (maybe) by 2030. So basically it is a marketing poster, kind of like the Boeing 6th Generation Fighter, quad rotor C130 replacement, the flying Hummer, or other unfounded concepts. But it looks good on paper.


Ben November 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm


They list 2018 as the hopeful demonstrator due date. That means a working, flying prototype. Production models would only be 2-3 years behind that.


Captain Obvious November 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Which if you follow development, they have a working prototype in the black budget. Now they want to transition it to the white world.

So basically this is the fabled Aurora working model coming into existence.


Curt November 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Read the article. They want to do a sub scale demonstrator to start in 2018 to fly sometime around 2023 to be followed by a full scale model to deliver sometime around 2030 assuming anything actually flies. They are shopping a concept in look of funds.


Bernard November 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm
blight_ November 1, 2013 at 9:37 pm

It's shameless for them to stand on the shoulders of giants, and to do so so blatantly with -72. That said, I'll believe it when it someday goes public.

What I really want is Have Dash. Build it. now.


citanon November 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm
blight_ November 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

Giving a product that isn't even out yet the arbitrary SR designation and a number (though these are given by the government, not the vendor) is public relations/marketing at its best. I'm surprised the Blackbird wasn't actually called the Shooting Star II.

And if this thing is really going to do more than fly and take pictures, it won't even be an SR (Or more accurately, an R) product, it'll be an attack or a fighter product. Perhaps F/A-72 lacks the resonance of SR-72.


Little Bill November 2, 2013 at 10:27 am

Do you all have any idea how hard it is to build these aircraft? Aircraft like these are built with materiel that Doesn't Even Exist! And the people that build these aircraft are the helpers to the protectors of FREEDOM!


GladiusCZ November 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Thats joke, right?


Rest Pal November 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm

they are testing this now? after serial production has already begun? LOL. only in America.


freeamerica November 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I know right. Because we have no idea how to make an airplane or space shuttle or Apollo moon landers or Mars rovers or even how to invent a computer or an airplane or an aircraft carrier or nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants or etc. etc. etc. The thing you are using to spew your hatred, the computer, was invented and perfected in America. So your feeble attempt of making America sound dumb is all for not. Keep trying to spread hate for it is all you know.


Rest Pal November 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

freekamerica, space shuttle was a financial disaster; Apollo moon landers, a shameful hoax; Mars rovers, so much money, man power and time in, so little result out; nuclear weapons, stolen ideas from Nazi scientists and engineers; computers, invented by British scientists and mathematicians.


freeamerica November 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Space Shuttle is one of the most impressive human achievements in history. Moon landing a hoax? That statement reveals who I am working with here, complete ignorance. Mars rover was for exploration to see if there is any water on Mars for future space missions. Nuclear weapons…the theory wasn't a secret and America set the first one off. The computer was patented by two Iowa State University Students. Iowa is one of the 50 states, fyi.


blight_ November 6, 2013 at 6:24 pm

For reference, for others (re "Iowa State University") http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atanasoff–Berr

Zuse's Z1 is from 1936 and finished in 1938 with patents in 1937, the ABC from 1939-1942, Zuse's Z3 is from 1941 and Eniac from 1946.
Re Zuse: http://www.zib.de/zuse/home.php/Papers/From1935To

I'm checking USPTO, but was the ABC patented? I thought it invalidated ENIAC's patent as prior art, but it wasn't necessarily registered with USPTO.

Thomas L. Nielsen November 7, 2013 at 2:13 am

"Space Shuttle is one of the most impressive human achievements in history" – from an engineering standpoint, yes. From the point of view of what it was supposed to have been (a safe, low-cost, routine access to LEO) it was a dismal failure.

"The computer was patented by two Iowa State University Students" – Using blight_'s link below (thankyou), the Iowa State computer (ISC) was "conceived in 1937", which was one year after Herr Zuse started actually building the Z1. The Z1 was programmable, the ISC was not. Both were less than reliable.

Or we could go back to Ada Byron's and Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, first described (but never built) waaaay back in 1837.

"Iowa is one of the 50 states, fyi" – Gosh, whatever would we do if you weren't here to tell us these things?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen

Rest Pal November 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm

I'd really like to help you understand how screwed up and dishonest the US government has been, but I don't have the time, the patience, or the medicine. My friends keep telling me there is no medicine to cure stupidity and ignorance. So I wish you luck.

Thomas L. Nielsen November 5, 2013 at 1:58 am

"….the computer, was invented and perfected in America…."

Konrad Zuse sent an email. He'd like a word with you.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


freeamerica November 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

And here they come. This entire country is full of critics ready to criticize everything. I am quite sure you have zero understanding of all the technologies required to be tested and proven before this plane was put into service. Most of the tech being new tech. This plane is a game changer. History will be the judge not arm chair critics.


XYZ November 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I mean, yeah… But I think the question most people have is… was it worth the astounding complexity (and increased costs associated with said complexity) to develop one plane right now, or would it have been better to individually develop the technologies and keep complexity per project lower?

That said, many of the technologies the JSF will hopefully one day demonstrate are astounding and indeed game-changing.


blight_ November 3, 2013 at 12:56 am

DAS will be an interesting gamechanger if it works as intended. It may even justify backporting to elements of the legacy fleet.

And then Israel will crack one out for a fifth of the cost, paved by the painful expenditures of American R&D to allow it to happen. Someone has to pay the activation energy to get the ball rolling, and that's usually America, paying for first dibs on a technology.


oblatt1 November 3, 2013 at 3:02 am

DAS just lets you watch the missile that you cant avoid hit you.


MovieMan November 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Did they have to lower the standard to consider it a hit like so many of its other achievements?


brok3n November 1, 2013 at 5:52 pm

"Lightning One, Fox 3.. Merica!"


hibeam November 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Great picture from the Cessna chase plane. Lucky it didn't stall.


JCross November 2, 2013 at 12:16 am

It flew in a straight line, got a very simple lock on a slowboat target drone, and fired a missile. On this project, any good news is welcome, but it's not really a major accomplishment. I'll start cheering when it shows up to various NATO exercises or RED FLAG drills and starts scoring kills.


Josh November 2, 2013 at 6:01 pm

It actually is a very major accomplishment. People who have no understand of engineering projects just simply don't understand this. You have to start at the small tests to get to the big ones. The test wasn't a "Oh my God! It worked! I can't believe it actually worked!" test, but rather the basic foundation for much more complex developmental assessments.
I could have posted a similar comment back in 2006 after the first flight saying, "So what? It took off and flew for a couple minutes and landed? What's the big deal?" Now fast forward a couple years and it's firing missiles, doing high AoA, doing airstarts, finding it's maximum turning capabilities, etc. See where I'm going with this? It's a gradual evolutionary process.


JCross November 3, 2013 at 12:18 am

I understand that completely. The issue is is that the payload bays opened on the X-35 prototype over a decade ago, the AIM-120 we know works, and the radar has also been functioning at a basic level for years in testing. My point is that this testing in component form has already been done. (We already knew that all of these components functioned to the level required for this test, and have known that for years.)


blight_ November 3, 2013 at 12:53 am

The X-35 was using OTS avionics and probably could've opened payload bays and fired missiles if the AF wanted them to do it.

When you build something from the ground up, what's old and proven elsewhere is unproven until you test it. We were probably able to test the avionics to lock onto targets on the avionics testbed long before this moment.


oblatt1 November 3, 2013 at 3:01 am

Anybody with any understanding of engineering projects would have canceled the F-35 years ago. It is a project designed for failure which it has delivered in spades.


badsurfcrimsen November 2, 2013 at 12:48 am

That thing belongs in a museum. Capitalism is a great form of Government; its too bad that nobody can afford it.


Jesus November 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

too bad you're wrong, because theirs a picture of one in the article.


Big-Dean November 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm

truly a great milestone has been met-firing a missile. I an TOTALLY impressed and awed. I literally broke down in tears after reading this article

for you "critics" out there, don't you realize how hard it is to build an aircraft that will replace the F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, A-6, F-14, AC-13-0, C-17, S-3, F-22, SR-71, M1A1, the USS Iowa, the space shuttle and NCC-1701 and have room left over for a microwave oven?

The F-35 is totally going to kick ass in the year 2057! The Klingons had better watch out. USA USA USA Lockhead, Lockhead…

(this is sarcasm)


SMSgtMac November 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm

No, that was 'puerile'.
But having watched you flounder at 'clever' repeatedly it is easy to see why ya' never have a go at 'smart'.
However, such twisted hyperbole does inadvertently highlight some other VALID point. As the F-35 program is being publically flogged over it's 'costs' by the 'Innumerati', REASONABLE people counter such superficial analysis to note that the development costs are still well below what could be expected for 3-5 new aircraft programs. Since the three variants are replacing five aircraft 3-5 times the cost of one program is the sensible range of the benchmark to measure against — just as the Congresscritters who created the three-planes-in-one approach envisioned.


oblatt1 November 3, 2013 at 3:00 am

"the development costs are still well below what could be expected for 3-5 new aircraft programs."

LOL so one poorly designed compromise plane instead of 3 properly designed aircraft. Wow what a bargain LOL

Lockheed shills are forever dreaming up excuses for the disaster. But remember their cardinal rule – if you pick Lockheed "there is no alternative to failure."


Tim UK November 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Want to destroy Western Airpower ? Just get Lockheed to design your next generation of fighters. If the USAF give them the contract for the supposed sr-72 they will be waiting till 2050. Oh yeah the Sr71 took how long to design and field ?


William_C1 November 3, 2013 at 5:23 am

The SR-71 made by Lockheed?


Merke November 10, 2013 at 3:49 am

Is that a question?


Rest Pal November 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

2050 is way too optimistic, considering the financial and economic nightmare facing the US government.

Then there is the rapidly declining pool of engineering talents.

The F-35 and the F-22 mess has been quite revealing.


Lance November 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm


Id be not shocked both ways billions wasted BUT it can fire a AMRAAM so can the F-15 F-16 F-18 AV-8B TORNADO F22 ect.


oblatt1 November 3, 2013 at 2:52 am

Launched a missile missed a drone – some say that its pity our operational squadrons of F-35s cant do that yet. But the reality is that the F-35 has such poor kinematics and limited stealth that its unlikely to ever get into a firing position where it could launch an AMRAAM.


PolicyWonk November 3, 2013 at 10:25 am

Where I'm glad the F-35SA variant was able to perform one of its most basic requirements, there remain many, many other issues to be resolved. The plane, for all the features touted by its supporters, has been and remains unable to fulfill even the several-times-watered-down mission profile requirements, even at a cost far in excess of what it was supposed to be.


William Baranowski November 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

It'll be ready by the end of November.


sophicsage November 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Oh wow. It fired a missile. Big whoop. They've dropped the standards on everything on this plane so it would "pass" tests, such as G-Forces, acceleration, runway length, etc. It's a total failure. Just build more advanced versions of the already successful F-22 and save the money. What a waste.


Salva November 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm

We've seem this movie before,the sarcastic comments I mean.every new u.s weapon system has to go thru all this arm chair critics nonsense.how do you think the u.s arms designers and manufacturer have stayed on top of this game if not for taking their time to build and deployed the best weapons systems in the world.to do something right takes time. Remenber all the critics of the f-4 phantom back in the 60'sand70's,..yet ,top world arms manufacturers like Germany and Japan are still flying them.even our arch enemy Iran can exist without them.!! Pleaseee read history and learn something.


Big-Dean November 3, 2013 at 10:06 pm

a little history, let's look at all of the successful designs and builds to see if we can see any pattern

F-4 Phantom-a NAVY a/c adopted by the Air Force build by McDonald Douglas
F-14 Gruman
F-15 McDonald Douglas
F-18 McDonald Douglas/Boeing
A-6 Gruman
F-16 General Dynamics
A-10 Fairchild Republic
F-22 Lochead/Boeing

save for the collaboration effort on the F-22, Lockhead has NOT build any successful fighter aircraft by itself since WWII

now you may "say" that the SR-71 was build by Lockhead, but that's only a half truth, it was build by Jim Kelly and his Skunkworks, which was basically a separate company from Lockhead

so let the HOWLING and the wailling begin and give me lots of thumbs downs, because the truth hurts and the Lockhead mafia can't stand it


William_C1 November 4, 2013 at 5:58 am

Northrop Grumman is a major sub-contractor for the F-35.

The Lockheed F-104 did what it was designed to do as an interceptor and day-weather fighter and many hundreds were built. It just wasn't cut out for the attack role it was used in by the Germans and others.

The Lockheed F-117 was the first true stealth design to enter active service.


Big-Dean November 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I didn't put the F-117 on the list simple because it wasn't a smashing success like the other examples were. Sure, it was the first truly stealth aircraft but it really couldn't do much, couldn't carry much, slow, very limited, etc.

And it has the fine distinction of being the first stealth aircraft to be shot down!


Janet poor November 3, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I love it!! It's mean looking & sleek! I wonder how it holds up to an A-10 or the Rapture?? I don't fly, am a scardey cat, but I do LOVE air crafts of all kinds!!!


Vaporhead November 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

This jet will never see combat, just as the F-22 hasn't. But hey, the Senators that fought for this thing are getting millions. It's like they say, they don't enter Washington as millions, but leave as millionaires.


freeamerica November 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Which is exactly the reason we make them, so we don't have to use them. Deterrence is the doctrine.


Vaporhead November 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

It's not a deterrence if it has never been proven in combat.


blight_ November 6, 2013 at 9:48 am

Brings to mind that Simpson's episode with Lisa's tiger-repelling rock.
Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a
Lisa: That's spacious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
——————– http://www.snpp.com/episodes/3F20.html


Steve November 10, 2013 at 4:27 am

its exactly what it is
we never used our newest nuclear missile in combat – we used one old bomb and few tests at home , are they not a deterrence ?


Steve November 10, 2013 at 4:28 am

actually two bombs

William_C1 November 5, 2013 at 1:36 am

So the USAF should have bothered sending F-22s over to Libya in the unlikely event that some poor brave fool took an elderly MiG-23 up into the air by that state in the conflict?

Or they should have deployed them to Afghanistan or Iraq to do what?


F35SPEC November 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

This live fire, along with the other "live fires" should have happened years ago, instead the program continues to slip to the right. This weapons system will take years to live up to the hype, if it ever does.


Big-Dean November 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

yep, the air force learned its lesson on the limits of stealth when they got one of their F-117's shot down. Stealth does not mean invisible, newer radars can overcome stealth


William_C1 November 5, 2013 at 1:33 am

Wait, what? Nobody who was well informed about the subject was ever under the impression that stealth aircraft are invulnerable.


Dutch engineer November 6, 2013 at 6:35 am

Why would you in heavens name want a F35 if you've allready got the F22!! There is no country as retarded as America regarding the spending of money..!


blight_ November 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

We killed the F-22 program because of the death spiral, and because we were too paranoid to share the F-22. Also, it could not have replaced the Navy's legacy Hornet and the Marine's harriers.

If the Air Force had learned how to play brinksmanship earlier, it would have started a serious F-15 upgrade program with Lockheed rival Boeing to encourage Lockheed to deliver product in a timely fashion. But Lockheed didn't seem to care, because they still got paid for R&D, were paid cost-plus for the tooling and production, and then won the F-35 contract anyways.

Once the Air Force started telling Lockheed to jump, Lockheed could only respond with "how high" instead of "too high". And once a culture of thrift is replaced with a different culture…you're doomed.

The modern USAF would have never accepted a half-product like the F-117. They would want afterburners, air to air missile capability, IRST and half a dozen doodads instead of a functional bomb-delivery-vehicle.


Merke November 10, 2013 at 3:52 am

Dutch engineer,

The Dutch government is among the future buyers of the F-35.


xzimppledink November 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm

The drone was not equipped with electronic countermeasures. As design engineer for the old ALQ-131of some 30 years ago, I'm not aware of it's replacement but there must be an upgrade system by now and that would be the only valid test.


freeamerica November 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Thomas, I was being sarcastic. Was I not sarcastic enough for you?


freeamerica November 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm

That's what we call in America as a cop out. Nice try at the dig though.


Thomas L. Nielsen November 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Sarcasm (like fresh seafood) does not travel well over the interwebs.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen


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