MBDA Missile Systems has completed delivery of the first advanced short range air-to-air missiles (ASRAAM), which will be integrated onto the UK’s F-35B Lighting II joint-strike fighter.
The company, in conjunction with BAE Systems, the UK’s F-35 weapons integration lead, delivered the missile last month.
The infra-red air dominance missile, ASRAAM is said to be the first of its kind to be incorporated into the UK’s fighter jet fleet F-35, and will be deployed into the F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the programme.
The missiles, after being incorporated, are believed to boost the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy’s F-35s with highly capable, passive, within visual range air-to-air capability.
UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: "The upcoming work to integrate the MBDA Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile onto the F-35 Lightning aircraft will provide a state-of-the-art weapon for both our RAF and Royal Navy pilots.
"The integration of this missile also demonstrates the success of the UK Defence industry’s contribution to the wider F-35 programme. Around 15% in value of every F-35 is being built here in the UK and the work is invaluable to British industry, supporting thousands of jobs across the UK."
The missiles are set to be subjected to flight trials and air-launched firings this year, which is essential to assess the F-35’s operational capability.
The tests will witness a series of events, including environmental data gathering, safe separation from the aircraft, and weapon integration with the F-35’s on-board systems.
The missiles will be fitted into the aircraft at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and at Edwards Air Force base in California, US.
The ASRAAM series of missiles are currently being used by Tornado and Typhoon fighters of the Royal Air Force and F/A-18 Hornets of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Image: An image of UK’s F-35 fighter jet. Photo: courtesy of MBDA.