An F-35 Lightning II launched an air-to-air missile, directly hitting a drone over a military test range off the California at the end of July.

US Air Force test pilot, Maj. Raven LeClair, launched an AIM-9X missile from an F-35A’s external wing against an aerial drone target in restricted military sea test range airspace.

According to a 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, 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 release continues:

“After launch, the missile successfully acquired the target and followed an intercept flight profile before destroying the drone, achieving the first F-35 Air-to-Air kill or “Boola Boola,” which is the traditional radio call made when a pilot shoots down a drone. Immediately prior to launching the AIM-9X, LeClair employed an internally carried AIM-120C missile against another target drone. This target was beyond visual range and the AIM-120C was given a successful self-destruct signal right before target impact.

The AIM-9X is a short-range heat-seeking missile with an off-boresight capability for accuracy and features thrust-vectoring controls for increased turn capability. The F-35 can carry two AIM-9X missiles on its wings. During previous test shots a self-destruct signal had been sent to the missile prior to it hitting the target.”

Maj. Raven LeClair said:

“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. This test represents the culmination of many years of careful planning by combined government and contractor teams. We want to ensure operators will receive the combat capability they need to execute their mission and return home safely – we cannot compromise or falter in delivering this capability.”

The missile test is part of a weapons delivery accuracy surge being conducted by the F-35 Joint Program Office Test Teams at Edwards Air Force Base, Point Mugu Sea Test Range, White Sands Missile Range and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The focus of the increased weapons testing is to advance 3F software testing, which will provide full warfighting capabilities to the F-35. Other ordnance being released during surge testing include: Small Diameter Bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AIM-120s.

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Harry Eaton

Related article (according to Facebook), some people are still in denial about this plane.

Sure there have been project problems and cost overruns but it’s stupid to exaggerate the state of the plane and claim it’s terrible when pilots themselves say it’s a decent plane, especially in capability over the old harriers.

Mark Llewellyn

Nearly every plane ever produced has had cost overruns, been delayed and had ‘issues’ the Typhoon had these now it’s considered an outstanding plane. F35 is set to be an awesome plane anyone saying any different, well they can thank god that there are more intelligent people than them that actually designed, developed and are building the plane!

Harry Eaton

Exactly, people are trying to use cost overruns to criticise the plane itself which has reached the point of being a very valuable asset, rather than concentrating on the core problem of cost overruns that plague so many of our projects.
They call for projects to be cancelled without actually fixing any of the issues that caused the cost overruns in the first place, thinking they’re helping.

Harry Eaton

Some are even still claiming the plane doesn’t even fly.


That hairdo that Canada elected as PM for one.

David Anthony Simpson

Did they all vote Remain too? 🙂

David Anthony Simpson

Best just focus on the realities – not misinformed bigots.

David Anthony Simpson

2 good shots on that test – including the BVR 120 shot – good stuff. Interesting too that 2 previous 9X trial shots had occurred but with pre impact termination. Steady progress for what will be a key UK capability launching off our QE carriers.

Kevin Werner

Hope you Lads made a right decision……..

Patrick Mooney

Excellent plane.???

Adam Jackman

What’s Pierre Spray up to these days ?


Working for Krelmin Media (or ‘RT’ as they like to brand themselves)

Sonny Palin

Shame we will only have around 80 plus, should be giving all these to the RN FAA and equipping the RAF with the F35A variant, giving themselves a similiar number.
There are too many major threats for us to cut our forces numbers so low.

UK Defence Journal

Hi Sonny, the UK is committed to 138 F-35s.


Whilst the 138 figure is tecnically true, it appears misleading as it seems we will not have all 138 at anyone time.

Sonny Palin

I know, but only 5 front line squadrons (60) and one reserve/attrition squadron(20) – maybe some extra spares laying around if we are lucky. That is where that 80 number come from.

James Gale

A Squadron is however big it needs to be. It is not governed by numbers.

Sonny Palin

I am talking about a previous article from UK Defence Journal that had the Air chief state such numbers.
Also, frontline squadrons have nearly always been 12 aircraft.

Greg Holden

I take any criticism of this aircraft with a pinch of salt. Does anyone remember the Tornado F3 flying around with blue circle radar?

Russell Hamilton

I do, but I wasn’t in it myself, those aircraft are constantly evolving, to be the best

Jason Holmes

I remember, but blue fox became a very good radar with sky flash, apparently much better than current options

Frederick Osho

Fantastic! Living beyond expectations.