Warplanes: March 31, 2001


The Boeing X-32A (that company's version of the Joint Strike Fighter) completed its flight tests on 3 Feb (66 flights for a total of just over 50 hours). Tests of the weapons bays were particularly extensive. These bays are mounted on the side, and each carries one AIM-120 (or other air-to-air missile) and one Joint Direct Attack Munition (or other air-to-ground weapon). By mounting the bays on the side, the aircraft could open the bay away from enemy radar, preserving its stealth configuration. The bays have two doors, and could fire the air-to-air missiles while opening only the lower door, the smaller of the two.--Stephen V Cole


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