The F-35A, a conventional take-off and landing aircraft that makes up one of three variants of the fighter jet made by US defence firm Lockheed Martin, has completed its first in-flight release of a 2,000 lb weapon from a 5th generation aircraft.
At the Edwards Air Force base in California, a fifth generation F-35A completed the first in-flight weapons release of a 2,000 pound guided bomb that can smash through buildings before exploding.
The warhead is part of the US programme to improve penetration levels so that it reaches the target. It can be released 15 miles from its target and will be used by the US Air Force.
The F-35A 5th Generation fighter is designed to carry a payload of up to 18,000 pounds using 10 weapon stations. This means that it could carry nine of these guided bombs.
It has four internal weapon stations located in two weapon bays to maximise stealth capability. The aircraft can also utilise an additional three external weapon stations per wing if required.
Around 15% of the supply chain comes from the UK, with Middlesex-based F-35 supplier Ultra Electronics providing the pneumatic system that charged the bomb rack to jettison the 2,000 lb bomb out of the weapon bay.
The flight was conducted by U.S. Air Force Major Matthew Phillips.