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​A 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew loads a live AIM-120 AMRAAM into an F-35A Jan. 31, 2017, at Eglin AFB, Fla. The 33rd Fighter Wing loaded and shot the first air-to-air missiles from an operational F-35A at Tyndall Air Force Base later the same day. Air Force photo by SSgt. Peter Thompson.

​Members of the 33rd Fighter Wing recently shot the first live air-to-air missiles from operational F-35A strike fighters during a Jan. 31 weapons system evaluation at Tyndall AFB, Fla. The AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles were loaded onto four strike fighters, but after the first three missiles were shot successfully crews determined the remaining missile did not need to be fired, according to a Feb. 1 release. The test comes a few weeks after Air Education and Training Command dropped the first live bombs from an F-35A over a range at Eglin AFB, Fla. “It is important that we have different tools available to us in the cockpit,” said Maj. Mark Schnell, 33rd Operation Support Squadron chief of standards and evaluation, in the release. “Having an array of tools for the array of targets we will face is going to help us be more lethal while minimizing collateral concerns.”