Not very stealthy: first image of F-35C carrying full load of weapons (externally)

On Jan. 13, RAF Squadron Ldr. Andy Edgell flew first F-35C, the U.S. Navy’s carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, with external GBU-12s, AIM-9Xs air-to-air missiles and the centerline gun pod.

Obviously, a radar-evading plane loses some of its stealthiness with such an external payload…

Image credit: Andy Wolfe via Lockheed Martin


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. This kind of ‘stealth plane’ or unstealthy aircraft configuration is clearly intended to wallop Third World nations and strictly nothin’ else. What a load of crap ! We are clearly still living in the very uncivlised Barbaric Age.

    • Team America: World Police! Sorry about the destruction and all the “collateral damage”, but you’re welcome for your freedom!

    • The F-35C Lightning II is shaping up to be a better warplane than the F/A-18E “Super” Hornet at least – you could just as easily apply your viewpoint to the F-18 as well.

      • the 35C will be a superiror F18, but there wont be the same quantity. That’s pretty sad.

        But we shouldn’t compare it to the super bug.

      • Not sure where you get that from. The A-7 was a subsonic aircraft with a terrible thrust to weight ratio that could barely pull 5g turns.

        • The F-35 turn specification was down graded to 4.5G. The F-35 barely made the 4.5G spec. The specs have been downgraded to accommodate the poor kinematic performance of the F-35. It’s a jack of all trades compromised aircraft.

          • Old comment I know but learn the difference between instantaneous and sustained turn rates. F-35A can still do 9g instantaneous.

            The A-7E was pulling 4.3g at its maximum sustained turn rate at a 500 knot speed. The aircraft’s weight for this figure was a bit under 29,000 lb but I don’t know the altitude. Of course we don’t know the weight, altitude, and speed for the F-35 sustained g figures either but it’s obviously going to beat the A-7 in a realistic comparison.

  2. What exactly is the argument here? That the F-35 is a bad plane because it looses the stealth advantage when carrying external weapons? That the concept or expense of stealth is now wasted because they strapped on some external ordnance?

    The fact of the matter is that there are missions that require stealth and missions that do not. Obviously you would never fly into a dogfight in a configuration like this, but strike missions over 3rd world countries where we have complete air superiority? Yeah, this would work just fine.

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