The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter, intended primarily for the U.S. Air Force short range fighter role. These single-seat single-engine fifth-generation fighters are designed to carry out air defense, ground attack, and recon missions.

February 16, 2012 marked the first flight of the F-35A carrying an external load of two Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The F-35A also had four additional external weapons pylons which are capable of carrying 2,000-pound (907-kg) air-to-ground weapons.

The F-35A additionally carried an internal weapons load of two GBU-31 2,000-pound bombs with GPS-assisted inertial navigation systems and two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles with inertial navigation and close-in radar guidance. These were accompanied by an internal GAU-22/A cannon - the four barrel version of the GAU-12 Equalizer 25mm Gatling rotary cannon. The cannon is supplied with 180 25mm rounds that can be fired at a rate of 55 rounds/second.

This first successful test with external weaponry will be followed by tests involving different loads intended for different types of missions. Live firing testing will begin at a later date.

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