This photo shows all the weapons the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is designed to carry

Jan 16 2015 - 15 Comments

The F-35 and its weapons suite.

Top image shows an F-35A, at Edwards AFB, California,nexto to its F-35 Systems Development and Demonstration Weapons Suite the aircraft is designed to carry.

According to Lockheed Martin, the Joint Strike Fighter can carry more than 35-hundred pounds of ordinance in Low Observable (stealth) mode and over 18-thousand pounds uncontested.

The Lightning II is conducting testing required for full weapons certification through a campaign which included validating 2B weapons software and successfully executing several weapons separation and engagement tests.

“Comprehensive flight test on the F-35A variant GAU-22 25mm gun system is scheduled to begin mid-year at Edwards AFB, Calif., and will include ground fire tests, muzzle calibration, flight test integration and in-flight operational tests. The 25mm missionized gun pod carried externally, centerline mounted on the F-35B and F-35C also begins testing this year to meet U.S. service’s desired schedule for full warfighting capability software known as 3F. The 3F software is currently planned for delivery with the Low Rate Initial Production nine (LRIP 9) U.S. aircraft in 2017,” Lockheed Martin team say in a press release.

Among the most recent tests there is the first separation test of a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, a 250-lb. precision-guided glide weapon (Oct. 21) and multi-separation test (Nov. 20); first external flutter tests flown with the AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) (Oct. 29) and Paveway IV missiles (Nov. 13); and the first supersonic-guided missile launch and the first JDAM release on target coordinates generated from the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) (Nov. 18-25 ).

The photo and updated weapons integration status report come few weeks after a report claimed the F-35 will be unable to use its gun until 2019.

Weapons Stations  Capacity_v1

Lockheed Martin Photo by Matt Short


  • William Ballinger

    So we are paying for a Lamborghini to pull a trailer of groceries most of the time in the suburbs.

    The high cost of Stealth is wasted on the majority of missions the F-35 is going to fly. And the low stealth payload is a joke.

    We coild probably buy 5 F-18 Super Hornets or F-15Es for every F-35.

  • Polaris1

    How does it compare to legacy F-16/F-18

  • Spencerhut

    They haven’t tested the gun yet?

  • Western

    Somehow the words “designed to carry” and “conducting testing” are little comfort to the weapons platforms being retired before the F-35 is ready. At least we now have a name for it. After Intruder, Nighthawk, and Warthog, this one shall be called Powerpoint.

  • Larry J

    The F-35 is designed to operate in both stealthy and non-stealthy configurations. The idea is that when stealth is required, such as the early days of combat against an enemy with air defenses, you’re relying on the limited internal weapons bay. If stealth isn’t required, you can hang a much larger weapons load under the wings like shown on that photo. Do a web search on F-22 external weapons and you can find photos of of pylons mounted missiles on that plane as well.

    The fact that the plane is years late and massively over budget is perfectly normal for Lockheed. Kelly Johnson must be spinning in his grave.

    As a side note, I’ve seen those types of potential weapons loads photos for many different planes dating back to the 1960s if not earlier.

  • Alan

    The F35B and F35C use the gun pod.

    • McPosterdoor

      Got it, just representing the ‘A’ then.

  • tommybcool

    The photo shows the F-35A (A for Arse about face) and the Gun (which wont work until 2019 at the earliest) is internal.

    • Uniform223

      Official statements slate the GAU-22 to be in operation by 2017 for the block 3F. I think the 2019 date mark is being misconstrued. I think 2019 is when complete fleet wide F-35 will have the block 3F software. Why they didn’t decide to have the GAU-22 operational for initial IOC I don’t know.

  • Uniform223

    Having read the comments so far I am probably going to be lynched here but I guess I’ll stand up and be the contradicting voice here. I wont name any names but if you read this you’ll know who you/they are.

    How does it compare to other “legacy” platforms in terms of performance? Well by almost any account from pilots and testers, you get the best of both worlds of the F-16 and F-18. The F-35 has already shown to have very good slow speed handling and very departure resistant. Already the F-35 has already proven to hold a 50AoA. Accounts from USAF pilots and test pilots remark that its acceleration is on par and in some areas exceeds an F-16 block 50. A USN Pilot stated that the F-35C with 20000lbs of fuel has performance comparable to clean F-18E. That brings another interesting point. All F-35 variants carry as much internal fuel that would require their predecessors to carry 2 or even 3 EFTs. Having personally attended the Nellis AFB open house November last year a former F-15E pilot said he was impressed with the F-35s acceleration being a single engine and heavier than a Viper, more specifically in the the aircraft’s dry thrust regime. As the aircraft matures the flight envelope will increase ( just like any aircraft before it ). Though not a Raptor by any means, its definitely no slouch either.

    Tactics and technology change with time. One cannot be idle and expect things to stay the same. All history of combat has shown that. People will always point to Col. Boyd’s EM and say that the F-35 is grossly unsatisfactory. Lets step back and think about when Col. Boyd came up with the EM and what was the technology and tactics used back then. Jump ahead to what is out there now, will his EM still hold up? I am not going to get too much into it but this person makes a very compelling argument. Though not saying that Col. Boyd’s EM is useless, it must change to what kind of threats are out there now.

    The F-35 was designed and built with flexibility in mind. If you need stealth great it naturally does that anyways. If you don’t need stealth that is good too because it can also do that. People always complain about its payload when it needs to fly for stealthy missions but forget that its payload is almost no different than an F-16 with the same weight in terms of payload/ordinance. Not to mention the drag created by those external loads on an Hornet/Super Hornet or Viper reduce their overall performance. This is where the F-35 gets a leg up. With the same payload weight compared to the other aircraft mentioned, the F-35 flies clean. Though the F-35 can so far only carry the AIM-9X externally ( I say so far as future upgrades to the sidewinder will allow the F-35 to carry it internally ). Though the pylon where the AIM-9X is carried isn’t at a straight 90degree angle. When looking closer the pylon that holds the sidewinder is actually canted. It also worthy to mention possible future munitions and upgrades during the F-35s service life. One such armament the F-35 ( and even the F-22 ) may possibly get may come from DoD funding of DARPA’s SACM ( small advance capabilities missile ). We got a mere taste of this when this same website offered us this.

    Lockheed Martin’s CUDA missile is most likely part of the SACM program. Its speculated that the CUDA missile will have engagement ranges between that of an AIM-120C and current AIM-9s. More impressive it will double an aircraft Air-to-Air payload.

    Those who do not believe that LO designs and technologies do not work are in my opinion either; stuck in the past or being willfully ignorant. There are too many examples out there to simply say that “stealth” doesn’t work or isn’t worth it.

    I am getting tired right now. Part 2 of my rant will come at a later date and time

  • McPosterdoor

    Loadout photo should do it, the photo is named ‘F-35A-Weapons-Carriage’ on this site.

  • Uniform223

    Part 2 of my nonsensical rant

    I left off with the belief that low observable tactics and technologies work. There are too many examples out in history and in modern tactics that support my stance. Whether its a soldier with a ghillie suit and effective camouflage pattern and LO designed aircraft or ships. If LO didn’t work then how in 1991 did F-117s fly into the most heavily defended airspace in Iraq that no other aircraft dared to fly and come back with ZERO losses. Jump ahead some 8 to 9 years and the B-2 paving the way for NATO air operations over the former Yugoslavia. Also with all the missions that F-117s ran there was only 1 loss. In 2011 specially modified stealth Blackhawks successfully penetrated Pakistani airspace for Operation Neptune Spear. F-22s in every exercise have had simulated kill-loss ratio that is disproportionate to their size of their operational element.
    At sea the USN and Lockheed tested the Sea Shadow off the coast of Redwood City for years and NO ONE knew about it ( mostly due to good OPSEC ). Also the USN incorporate some minor LO features into the Arliegh Burke class Destroyer.The Swedish Navy with their Visby class Corvette and the Royal Norwegian Navy with their Skjold class Corvette. Submarines… need I say more?
    What you cannot see can kill you. LO designs and tactics reduce the enemies SA and gives you the upper hand.

    I will not say that ECMs and good electronic warfare doesn’t work. They have showed that they do. Though when used in coordination with LO designs and techniques dedicated electronic warfare units become more effective.

    Col. Boyd’s famous OODA loop. Observe Orientate Decide Act. Whether is used for a large scale operation, fighter pilots in the sky or soldiers and marines on the ground. Its about the individuals situational and operational awareness. Having good SA enables you to make better decisions out in the field. Whether you are on the offensive or defensive having good SA can be the difference between life and death.
    If you have the best air frame out there with the most awesome engine but you don’t know whats going on in the battle space, you’re useless and as good as dead in the a real operation. Its often shown that having that ( sounds really cliche ) first strike capability can mean all the difference. Creating pure chaos for the enemy while you orchestrate it. This is why the F-22 has shown to be so exceedingly effective in all its logical exercises. The F-22 blends an advance design with great tactics and gives the pilot great SA ( with the help from integrated avionics ) that ( as I see it ) is only matched and in some areas exceeded by the F-35.
    I mentioned earlier a Strike Eagle pilot who now test and evaluates the F-35 at Nellis AFB. That pilot mentioned that even with its basic software he said that ( in his words ) the F-35 is heads and shoulders above the rest. Before the pilot and weapons officer of the F-15E had to look at 2 or 3 screens down in the cockpit then put all the separate information given to them from its targeting pod and other systems to make that decision. Now the F-35 does most of the thinking for them, displays all information gathered from all the sensors into one screen ( sensor fusion ) and all other important flight and targeting data on their HMD. It effectively cuts that time to observe, orientate, decide, and act in half the time compared to older aircraft out there. How much information are you given. How accurate is your information. How quickly can you act upon that information.

    I will not argue that the F-35 program hasn’t gone over budget or isn’t late on its promises. Than again what other major fighter program let along international program hasn’t? To blame those things solely on the aircraft in my opinion is unjustified. Hell you want a program is WAY late and WAY over budget, one need not look any further than India’s Tejas fighter. 30 years later and India just received its first series production of that aircraft. The F-35 program under good management is now starting to hit its stride and is only increasing. Every aircraft prior to the F-35 has had concurrency ( oh no there is that dreaded word ) in some round about way in its service life. One need not look any further than the F-16. Without concurrency the F-16 wouldn’t be where it is today.

    This ends my rant. I’ve said my piece now I will await for the anti F-35 mob to tear apart my comment and to march me to the gallows for my hanging.

  • If all those are intelligent weapons, that mostly do their job by themselves when fired at a safe distance, that superexpensive F-35 contraption should not be necessary, but something much cheaper of as platform could do. Or put another way: Is it really necessary for an aircraft that never is intended to do a dogfight to be so expensive?

  • Privat Privat

    Wont the stealth capability be pointless when carrying so many wing missiles?

    and on full load whats the distance this thing can travel, and how does it go against many cheep fighters such as mig-29, who will sneak trough mountains, unless were talking about fights over the pacific ocean.. basicly over sea.

    Have missiles become good enough that they can befired from max distance and still hit a target, or do we still have to fire in optimal range, and even then pray that the enemy doesn’t start to travel up and turn on its stealthjamming.

    . and how good is the f-35’s stealth capability, and is it a directional stealth.. aka just from front? so when enemys are using radar planes and ground radards to help their planes..

    is the f-35 agile enough to fly between mountans and curve around in hilly terrain like in Alaska realy low to the ground.

  • Tostik

    All of you F-35 detractors read this post from carefully. It shows how important SITUATIONAL AWARENESS is in WVR combat, and how easily it is lost. The F-35 will give pilots unprecedented situational awareness.

    “DAS is always tracking every aircraft nearby, in every direction, simultaneously, and looking for
    inbound missiles at the same time. F-35 mission fusion software keeps
    targets and IDs sorted out, even in a dynamic turning dogfight or when a
    target is directly behind you.

    While flying an F-15 in a dogfight, I have to constantly swivel my head to manually detect and
    track adversaries and wingmen with my eyes. Situational awareness
    breaks down quickly, and I’m suddenly wondering if that distant object
    I’m looking at is an F-15 or an adversary aircraft.

    I’ve flown against MiG-29s, and it wasn’t until I was up close and saw the paint
    job that I could be positive it wasn’t an F-15. With your head and eyes
    shifting back and forth under high G loading in a turning fight, it is
    very easy to lose sight, get confused, and misidentify aircraft.

    Datalink update rates are too slow for ID purposes in a dogfight. ID
    correlations frequently are swapped from wingmen to bandits and vice
    versa as they streak past your jet and swap sides.

    The F-35 isn’tgoing to lose those IDs; it isn’t going to lose that situational
    awareness because there is always at least one sensor with high update
    rates tracking the various aircraft. In fact, you may even do better by
    just looking at your situational awareness displays or helmet symbology
    rather than at the confusing swirl of airplanes to visually sort out
    good from bad.

    And if a missile is shot at you in the F-35, you’ll see it coming whether it is smokeless or not. You can take the appropriate measures, or just let the aircraft automatically provide the

    In 95 percent of the air-to-air kills in history, the victim had no idea he was being shot at. Unless you’re referring to the other guy’s loss rate, that won’t be the case with the F-35.”