WASHINGTON: The F-35 is now a real, honest-to-god weapon. It located, fixed and killed a real moving target on July 28.
“It’s been said you don’t really have a fighter until you can actually hit a target, and we crossed that threshold with the first air-to-air weapon delivery of an AIM-9X. This successful test demonstrates the combat capability the F-35 will bring to the US military and our allies,” Air Force test pilot Maj. Raven LeClair says in a statement issued this afternoon.
The statement says that “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, enabled the pilot to verify targeting information using the high off-boresight capability of the helmet-mounted display (HMD) and launched the AIM-9X from the aircraft to engage the target drone.”
The Joint Program Office, which released the statement, is clearly anticipating the Air Force’s declaration of Initial Operational Capability for the F-35A, which may occur as soon as tomorrow — though no official plans have been released yet.