F-35 “Blows Up” Tank, Tests AMRAAM (PHOTOS)

An F-35B drops a GBU-12 during a weapons release test Oct. 29. (Lockheed Martin/Darin Russell)

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter successfully completed two important weapons tests this week – one air-to-air and one air-t-ground. And we’ve got the pictures to prove it.

On Oct. 29, the Marine F-35 B jump-jet variant completed its first guided weapon delivery towards a target – in this case, a tank at Edwards Air Force Base Precision Impact Range Area. The weapon in question was a GBU-12, which took 35 seconds to hit the ground after being released at 25,000 feet. While the bomb itself wasn’t armed, it still made a bit of a splash, as you can see below.

One day later, the F-35A conventional take-off-and-landing variant, which will be the most commonly purchased variant of the fighter thanks largely to a massive order by the US Air Force, completed the first live-fire test of an air-to-air missile, also at Edwards.

This launch consisted of an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) launched from the internal weapons bay of the jet. From the Lockheed Martin press release:

Test data and observers confirmed the F-35 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. After launch, the missile successfully acquired the target and followed an intercept flight profile.  Moments before the missile was about to destroy the target, a self-destruct signal was sent to the AIM-120 in order to preserve the aerial drone for use in future tests.

In the greater scheme of things, these weapon tests aren’t a major game-changer for the jet. But enough little milestones are starting to add up to real movement on the program, which seems to have hit its stride over the last year. Whether there may be program delays due to sequestration in 2014, the notoriously delayed platform continues to move forward.

Below is a collection of pictures released by Lockheed Martin of the two tests.

An F-35B drops a GBU-12 during a weapons release test Oct. 29. (Lockheed Martin/Darin Russell)

The GBU-12 lands on a tank stationed at Edwards Oct. 29. (Lockheed Martin/Matthew Short)

An F-35A launches an AIM-120 AMRAAM Oct. 30 (Lockheed Martin/Paul Weatherman)

And there it goes. (Lockheed Martin/Paul Weatherman)


Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta