The US Air Force (USAF) and the US Navy, have successfully conducted the first test launch of Raytheon's AIM-9X Block I missile from the F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter.

The short-range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile was fired at airborne targets, resulting in direct hits, Raytheon said in a statement.

The testing was aimed at validating the on-board communications and handoffs between the aircraft and the missile required to engage an aerial target.

The series of guided live fire tests proved the end-to-end system capability of AIM-9X on the F-35, including loading, in-flight carriage, target acquisition by the aircraft, missile target acquisition and track, launch initiation, safe separation, in-flight guidance, impact / proximity fusing at target intercept.

Raytheon Missile Systems AIM-9X programme director Mark Justus said:  "AIM-9X will help ensure our pilots and allies have the most reliable and effective weapons on the F-35.

"We look forward to the remaining flight test and integration work, leading to fielding of the AIM-9X on the most advanced fighter aircraft."

The missile has been designed for easy installation on a wide range of modern aircraft such as the F-15, F-16, F/A-18 and F-4 fighters; A-4, A-6 and AV-8B attack aircraft; and the AH-1 helicopter.

This dual-use missile is compatible with the US Army’s ground-based multi-mission launcher.

"AIM-9X will help ensure our pilots and allies have the most reliable and effective weapons on the F-35."

The F-35 can be fitted with two AIM-9X missiles on its wings and four AIM-120s internally when configured for an air dominance mission.

The fourth guided test in the series is scheduled to take place later this year.

Image: An AIM-9 missile being fitted on a F/A-18C Hornet. Photo: courtesy of DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Fleske, US Navy.