This post originally appeared on Business Insider by Robert Johnson.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been plagued by setbacks and drama since the design left the computer and the plane took to the air.
Perhaps this is why the defense company is quick to trot out big, beautiful pictures every time the fighter takes one more teetering step.
This week’s milestone came when the plane conducted its first ever, external weapons test. There are no pictures of the ordnance in action, but Lockheed did release the F-35′s full weapons potential and the two air-to-air AIM-9X missiles on the outboard wing stations for the test flight, just scratch the surface.
In addition the F-35 will carry: Two internal 2,000 lb smart bombs, two advanced medium range air-to-air missiles inside weapon bays to decrease its radar signature, along with four 2,000 pound bombs mounted to the wings.
All told the jet will carry 18,000 pounds of ordnance, spread over 10 weapons stations, with four of the stations inside the body of the plane to improve its stealth ability.
Now, if only Lockheed can keep the Chinese from eavesdropping on its conference calls…