A Lockheed Martin/ Boeing F-22 Raptor from the combined test force at Edwards AFB, southern California, launched a Raytheon AIM-120C AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missile for the first time on 24 October.

The integration test firing was a critical evaluation of the rapid launch-to-eject cycle, which is designed to maintain the aircraft's low-observable radar signature during weapon firing. The USAF says the AIM-120 was successfully ejected into the airstream by a LAU-142 launcher.

The launch, which represents a key milestone for the aircraft and the missile, was the first of up to 60 AMRAAM test firings that have been planned through to 2003. Of these, 20 are scheduled to be guided shots in combat-realistic test scenarios. Some will include firings from conventional wing pylons due to be fitted to the F-22 during a later testing phase.

The first missile launched was instrumented to test separation characteristics, and externally was aerodynamically representative of the AIM-120C.

Source: Flight International