Marine fighter pilots with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp , deployed in the Pacific Ocean, to rehearse Combat Air Patrol missions with the F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) stealth aircraft, carrying and employing a live AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range missiles, produced by Raytheon, on August 7, 2019.

This execution marked the first operational F-35B live-fire of the AIM-9X missile in the Indo-Pacific region while conducting blue-water flight operations. The rehearsal was in conjunction with the hot reload of ordnance including GBU-12 Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs and GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 25-mm ammunition with a GAU-22 cannon.

The AIM-9X Sidewinder missile is the first short-range air-to-air missile to be used on the F-35 and it is an infrared air-to-air weapon currently in service with more than 40 countries worldwide.

The air-to-air missile drill validated weapons assembly and loading procedures on the flight deck of the ship and showcased the F-35B’s flexibility to offensively engage airborne targets. The missile targeted and successfully engaged LUU-2 flares dispensed out of an MV-22B Osprey during flight operations, according to Maj. Jeffrey Davis, F-35B detachment officer-in-charge with VMM-265.

The 31st MEU regularly conducts F-35B Combat Air Patrol rehearsals and is fully prepared to maintain aerial dominance against any threat,” said Col. Robert Brodie, 31st MEU commanding officer. “Our successful live-fire employment of the AIM-9X further exemplifies our preparedness to ‘fight and win’ against any adversary in any arena.

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