- The trials mark the first time a UK-designed missile has been fired from the F-35, and also the first time a non-US missile has been fired from the platform.
- Guided firing trials expected to continue through to mid-2017
The F-35 Integrated Test Force - a joint team comprising prime contractor Lockheed Martin, MBDA, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and officials from the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Warfare Centre, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), and US Department of Defense (DoD) - has successfully conducted the first guided firing trials of the MBDA imaging infrared Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) from the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft.
The trials - conducted from both Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland and the US Air Force' Edwards Air Force Base in California - began in early 2017 are expected to continue through to mid-2017. MBDA declined to disclose the number of guided firings already conducted, or planned for the future. The target types used for the trials were also not disclosed.
In January 2016 MBDA, in conjunction with the United Kingdom F-35 weapons integration lead BAE Systems, commenced deliveries of a consignment of ASRAAM integration assets to Lockheed Martin in the United States, ahead of planned integration with the United Kingdom F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft later that year. An MBDA spokesperson told Jane's at the time that in total 25 ASRAAM hardware assets - comprising environmental data gathering missiles, telemetry operational missiles, acquisition training missiles, and instrumented captive carry missiles for seeker data gathering - will be used for a series of flight trials and air-launched firings during 2016. "The specific quantities of each are sufficient for the various trials," the MBDA spokesperson added.
ASRAAM is the primary short-range air-to-air effector in for the RAF's Tornado GR4 and Typhoon FGR4 aircraft.
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