Taken on Jun. 14, the following image shows the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft BF-2, piloted by Cmdr. Eric Buus, flying inverted (most probably doing an aileron roll) with an asymmetric weapons load made of an AIM-9X Sidewinder inert missile on the starboard pylon, a centerline 25 mm gun pod, and a GBU-32 and AIM-120 in the (closed) starboard weapon bay.
While weapons separation testing is scheduled for this summer, weapons testing for both the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) and Carrier Variant versions are in progress.
Tests include fit checks, captive carriage environment characterization, and pit drops.
Image credit: Lockheed Martin via USMC
- First image of F-35B with an AIM-120C5 missile in the weapon bay (theaviationist.com)
- Photo: F-35A completes first aerial refueling with inert AIM-9X, JDAM and AMRAAM weapons. (theaviationist.com)
- UK to reverse decision on F-35 version. Two aircraft carriers and 72 retired Harriers later. (theaviationist.com)
Don’t these external weapons make the aircraft un-stealthy? If so, why not just build more F-15s instead of this?
External weapons are only fitted on when stealth is no longer as important, usually later on in the phase of a campaign. External pylons can also be used to store extra fuel for longer flights.