STEVENAGE, England, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Missile-maker MBDA reports it has started delivering Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles to the United States for integration onto F-35B aircraft.
The F-35B fighters are for Britain and the ASRAAMs are being delivered to BAE Systems, Britain's weapons integration lead.
"ASRAAM will be the first UK missile to arm the F-35 and its integration within the F-35 System Development and Demonstration phase of the program will give the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy's F-35s a highly capable, passive, Within Visual Range air-to-air capability," MBDA said.
The first of an undisclosed number of missiles was delivered last month.
"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," said Britain's Minister for Defense Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne.
The test missiles will be used this year in flight trials and air-launched firings that are a key for IK's F-35s gaining Initial Operating Capability status, The trials will include environmental data gathering, safe separation from the aircraft, and weapon integration with the F-35's on-board systems. The integration work will be conducted at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and at Edwards Air Force base in California.
ASRAAM is currently in service on Tornado and Typhoon fighters of the Royal Air Force and F/A-18 Hornets of the Royal Australian Air Force.
MBDA is a joint venture of the Airbus Group, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica.