F-35B In “Third Day Of War” External Weapons Load Configuration Demonstrates Ski Jump Launch in U.S. for Royal Navy.

Aug 24 2017 - 17 Comments
By Tom Demerly

Check Out This Cool New Video of F-35B Doing Ski Jump Launch Trials for the QE2.

British Aerospace test pilot Peter “Wizzer” Wilson demonstrated the F-35B Lightning II’s capability to launch from a ski-jump style launch ramp during phase 2 testing with a heavy external weapons load last week in a series of capability flights at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

The Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical) variant was configured in a “third day of war” load-out with heavy external Paveway precision guided bombs and AIM-132 ASRAAM air-to-air missiles in addition to any internal load and the aircraft’s GAU-22A 25mm internal cannon.

The external weapons configuration demonstration (as the one done by the F-35C firing a missile while inverted) is interesting since it includes the broad capability of the F-35B across the entire tactical conflict spectrum. With a “first day of war” configuration the F-35B would likely carry weapons internally to maintain low radar cross-section and observability from sensors. However, as a conflict evolves and enemy air defense assets including sensors, air defense missile and gun systems and enemy aircraft, are degraded by airstrikes from F-35s in the low-observable configuration the environment becomes more permissive. The F-35 no longer relies on low-observable capability for survivability. It can shift to carrying large external loads to accelerate the prosecution of ground targets in an effort to overwhelm an adversary with highly effective precision strikes.

Moreover, as already explained in previous posts on this subject, LO aircraft in un-stealthy configuration because of the external loads achieve stealthiness and can play a different role once their external weapons have been expended.

The F-35B in this series of launch tests is in the “third day of war” external load configuration.

The demonstration highlights the compatibility of the aircraft with the new Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers including the recently commissioned HMS Queen Elizabeth II (RO8) and the upcoming HMS Prince of Wales (RO9) to be commissioned in 2020. Both new carriers use the traditional ski-jump launch ramp as employed on legacy Royal Navy ships and also by the Chinese, Russian and upcoming Indian navy carriers. These aircraft carriers do not yet have, or need, launch catapults.

F-35B Test Pilot Pete “Wizzer” Wilson flew the ramp launch tests. (Photo: Wilts and Glos Standard)

The tests were conducted the week of August 14, 2017 in anticipation of upcoming trials on the HMS Queen Elizabeth II. BAE Systems ski jump project lead test pilot Peter Wilson, a former Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilot now living in the U.S. during the flight test program, told writer George Allison for the media outlet U.K. Defence Journal that:

“Friday’s F-35B ski jump was a great success for the joint ski jump team. I’m exceptionally proud of this team. Their years of planning, collaboration and training have culminated in a fantastic achievement that advances the future capabilities of the aircraft and its integration into UK operations.”





  • tfpiii

    “the aircraft’s GAU-22A 25mm internal cannon”

    The aircraft has no such thing.

  • Matt

    The Bravo variant does not have a “GAU-22A 25mm internal cannon.”

    • allan desmond

      again they CORRECTED that right in the story…

  • leroy

    This magnificent bird does it all. It simply does it all. And you can bet your bottom dollar Russia and China can make nothing like it. Nothing! And don’t give me smack about Yak. Yak was always junk! A complete joke. I can tell you the God’s honest truth – the US Navy used to LAUGH at it. : )

  • leroy

    My God will you look at that! The plane left the ramp and it didn’t drop an inch. Now THAT’S power!

  • Chugs 1984

    That’s pretty impressive…especially seeing it looks like its loaded to its max tax-off weight. Far superior to the AV-8B | Harrier II

  • The almost no stealth , had become non stealthier at all with external payload.
    RCS : 0,8m2 – 1m2
    External payload RCS: 3 – 5m2.

    Next….Do the math.

    • Andrew Pearce

      Its called “day three of war” load out for a reason.

      • Thats because , it will be at war on day three , when the other fighters already cleared the way , so that retarded blob can pass.

        Hmmm….It reminds me another failure in Serbia.
        The infamous Fail-117 Nightcrap , when the NATO alliance fighters ,
        Tornado , Harrier , F-16 , F-15 , Mirage 2000 and many Tomahawks did the job , and the ”stealth” square junk fly over the bases , AFTER the destruction of the enemy air defence.

        But one mobile S-125 escaped the bombing , and did what we allllll know.
        It sent the square ”stealth” to eternal sleep.

        But , of course…..The US propaganda has another opinion….
        Savvy ?

        • Andrew Pearce

          Lol please comment again about how one F117 getting shot down over the history of stealth warplanes negates stealth tech. It really makes you look smart. What Serbia did was essentially the equivalent of blindly throwing a rock off an over pass. F117’s got complacent using the same airspace for bombing runs, all Serbia had to do was throw up a couple SAMS. A change in strategy and US learnt from its mistake

        • TractorEngineer

          One combat loss in 30 years means the F-117 was junk? Whatever. The Serbian loss just goes to show that any technology can be defeated by poor tactics. I love it when people that only move between their basement and their job at Target pretend that they’re insiders, privy to info that the rest of us aren’t.

        • wildcolonialboy

          “Failure” in Serbia. Remind me, who won that war and how many planes did Serbia shoot down?

    • Mali King

      Congratulations, on being the prime example of going full retard. Pulling figures out of your behind……having no reading comprehension skills (of the actual article)……posting utterly irrelevant rubbish. Congratulations once again….have this nice F for Fail

    • veej7485


  • leroy

    I understand Italy will be procuring F-35Bs for its two aircraft carriers. Impressive! The Med will be under Italian control because of it.

    This is just what NATO needs to maintain peace in Southern Europe and North Africa, as well as a major portion of the Middle East. My hat is off to the Marina Militare. Keep up the great work, and our United States Navy will meet you on the high seas. No force in the world will be able to challenge us (including the rest of NATO’s naval power). That’s just the way it should be!

  • Uniform223

    The USMC is showing that this aircraft is a real game changer…



    Talk about USAF and USMC F-35s working together at the last red flag is only driving home the point that this aircraft isn’t only better than its predecessors but it’s mere presence makes everyone one else more effective and survivable

    • Mali King

      Spot on!