Category Archives: F-35

Farnborough 2012: Close up view of the mysterious F-35's multimission pod. Did it really carry a gun in February 2012?

Can you remember the first images of the F-35 carrying a white 25 mm gun pod?

I was visiting the booth of Terma, a Danish firm, when I stumbled upon this:

The multimission pod for the F-35 is actually the same white pod carried on the centerline unveiled by the photographs released in February 2012.

The F-35 pod is a full monocoque composite structure in carbon fiber that can be used to expand the JSF’s special mission capabilities, by allowing the plane to fly “Next Generation EW and ISR systems, such as Jammers and EO sensors”as well as an external cannon.

Since, it was engineered and flown in February 2012 I wonder if it actually contained a 25 mm cannon (as Naval Air Systems Command affirmed at the time) when it appeared underneath the F-35 for the first time on Feb. 22.

Indeed, I can’t see any clear sign of a barrel coming out of it in the images available so far. But it may use a new system I don’t know yet or the fact that the pod has low observability features…. :)

Photo: F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft doing aileron roll with asymmetric weapons load

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

Video: First F-35 Carrier Variant night flight. With heavy afterburner usage.

After the first cool images, here’s the video of the F-35C test plane CF-2 during the first night flight on Jun. 13.

As seen when the F-35A made its first night sortie in January, note the green night formation lights, used by combat plane to make formation flying easier after dark.

This is one of the coolest F-35 photos, ever: Carrier Variant first night take off with full afterburner

The following image shows Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matt Taylor as he ascends in F-35C test aircraft CF-2, on Jun. 13. It was taken at NAS Patuxent River and depicts the first night takeoff for the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The flight was aimed at evaluating the aircraft’s night lighting system.

Click on the image below to download the high-rez version of the cool photo (3000px).

Image credit: Lockheed Martin via U.S. Navy

And here’s another one, just uploaded by LM on the company’s Flickr photostream.

First F-35A sporting 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron lettering and "OT" tail code, spotted at NAS Forth Worth JRB

The following image, taken on May 17, shows the first flight of F-35A AF-17 at NAS Fort Worth JRB (Joint Reserve Base), with Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti at the controls.

The aircraft, scheduled to go to Eglin AFB, Florida, later in 2012, is the first to get the 31 TES lettering as well as the 53rd Wing’s “OT” tail code alongside the AF-18, that did not get the 31 TES lettering though.

Something new at least, in a world dominated by tedious overall gray planeswith low visibility markings.

Belonging to the Eglin’s 53 Wing, the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron is located at Edwards AFB, California. According to the Air Force website:

“The squadron evaluates the operational effectiveness and suitability of advanced ACC weapon systems by providing operations, maintenance and engineering experts to work alongside AFMC and Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center personnel. The squadron also provides early war-fighter insight and influence during developmental testing. Weapon systems currently involved in operational test and evaluation include the F-35, B-1, B-2, B-52, RQ-4 Global Hawk, and MQ-9 Reaper. Squadron personnel integrate live test results with modeling and simulation data to predict combat capabilities under realistic scenarios thereby setting the stage for tactical development in the Combat Air Forces. Results and conclusions support DoD acquisition, deployment and employment decisions.”

Time to add a new type to the list.

Photo by Carl Richards / Code One