New Small Diameter Bomb Doesn’t Fit Inside Marine’s F-35B

F-35B-STOVL-modeJoint Strike Fighter engineers will have to make adjustments to the weapons bay of the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 so the aircraft can carry a pin point glide bomb by 2022, JSF program officials said.

The Small Diameter Bomb II, or SDB II, can acquire and track moving targets from distances up to 40 miles and is slated to enter service by 2017. However, while the weapon can be integrated into the Air Force’s F-35A variant, the new weapon cannot fit into the current configuration of the Corps’ F-35B short-take-off-and-landing variant of the JSF, F-35 program officials acknowledged.

JSF officials said the SDB II was not intended to integrate onto the Marine Corps variant before 2022 and therefore “not an issue or problem.” However, the changes will require modifications to the internal weapons bay before it can be integrated.

The JSF program says the program is waiting to make these modifications because the SDB II is a developmental weapon and there may be other adjustments needed to the internal weapons bay to accommodate other future weapons, JSF officials explained.

The SDB II is not intended to deploy on the F-35B when it reaches operational status later this year. The software configuration onboard the F-35B will not be able to fire the SDB II until 2022, JSF officials said.

JSF officials could not say how much the modifications to the internal weapons bay of the F-35B will cost because they are still being determined and not slated to begin for several years.

The Small Diameter Bomb II represents a technological departure from other precision-guided air-dropped weapons because of its ability to track and hit moving targets from long distances.

A key part of the SDB II is a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker – a guidance system which can direct the weapon using millimeter wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared guidance and semi-active laser technology.

Meanwhile, the Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter variant is making progress with its weapons separations testing, Air Force officials said.

“We’ve had a busy year in terms of looking at doing testing for weapons separation,” Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy for Air Force acquisition, said.

Since last year the Air Force has had four different AIM-120 tests as well as a few Small Diameter Bomb separation tests and some JDAM tests, she added.

Pawlikowski said weapons preparation is on track for the Marine Corps short-take-off-and-Landing F-35B variant as well, adding that it is slated to reach operational status, called initial operating capability or IOC, by this summer.

“The weapons preparation is on track to support the Marine Corps and Air Force IOCs,” she added.

Meanwhile, in November of last year, the Joint Strike Fighter completed three live-fire weapons delivery accuracy tests involving two AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAMs and one Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM.

“These events included the first supersonic-guided missile launch and the first JDAM release on target coordinates generated from the Electro-Optical Targeting System,” a JSF program office statement said.

The F-35 can carry more than 35-hundred pounds of ordnance in low observable or stealth mode and over 18-thousand pounds uncontested.

There are 11 weapons stations built onto the F-35 airframe; four of them, weapons stations four, five, seven and eight are internal weapons stationed engineered to allow the aircraft fly and drop weapons while in stealth mode, JSF officials said.

However, there is an exhaustive separation process and extensive evaluations involving testing weapons “drops” before weapons are live-fire tested against targets, Pentagon JSF officials said.

“We take a crawl, walk, run approach to weapons testing where we will begin by putting a weapon in a weapons bay and dropping it on land onto some padding. Then, they will test the weapon flying to see if it releases and drops safely. Then you connect to the last stage and test whether the weapon can find the target,” said Joe DellaVedova, JSF spokesman.

F-35 weapons separation testing has also involved the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, Paveway IV missiles and external “flutter tests” with the AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile.

Overall, the Air Force plans to buy 1,763 JSF F-35A multi-role fighters.

In January of this year, the Air Force stood up a special F-35 integration office to ensure that all aspects of the platform are properly developed, Pawlikowski added.

She added that some of the technologies, such as intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance ability, or ISR, and increased sensing capacity on the F-35 might lead the Air Force to develop new concepts of operation, tactics and procedures for the platform.

“I don’t know that we have a full appreciation of everything we are going to be able to do with the F-35 until we start to actually use it,” Pawlikowski said.

— Kris Osborn can be reached at Kris.Osborn@military.com

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Vitor

    The F-35 that doesnt seem to fit reality

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    The apparently recent discovery that the SDB II doesn’t fit the bomb bay of the F-35B, as now configured, is as grotesque a confession of incompetence and mismanagement as we have ever seen. This damns everyone involved, the Pentagon, LM, and whomever is monitoring this for the Marines. It also means that for the first few years of the aircraft’s service life the CAS mission will require shallow approaches to a target, putting this $90 million airframe within reach of WW II AA systems, and with externally mounted ordinance, thereby compromising stealth.
    Vladimir Putin’s most heartfelt prayer has to be that LM stays a major player in defense generally, and that LM/Boeing gets the contract for the AF’s bomber.

  • BlackOwl18E

    I wonder how long they’ve known about this without telling anyone.

    • CharleyA

      Apparently for quite a while according to the JSF PIO. Which doesn’t really explain why it was never highlighted as an issue that needed to be addressed. It makes you wonder what else hasn’t been mentioned.

    • NathanS

      A bit of a storm in a tea-cup; the F/A-18E/F requires profile changes to carry the SDB II as well. This is likely to occur around 2020 or so.

      The SDB II was designed after both the F/A-18E/F and F-35B; so if anything it’s Raytheon who has dropped the ball.

      • BlackOwl18E

        Show me a source for where it says the Super Hornet needs these profile changes.

        • NathanS

          My apologies: it looks like I jumped the gun; I was referring to the Feb. 2 press briefing on the FY-16 president’s budget, Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary for Budget Rear Adm. William Lescher.

          I remember reading something about changing profiles in relation to the F/A-18E/F, but just reading it again, he’s talking about the profile for procurement:

          Lescher said this change in the procurement profile aligns with the planned F/A-18 Super Hornet integration in FY-20.

          • BlackOwl18E

            Yeah, I already knew.

          • d. kellogg

            Exactly how did Raytheon drop the ball simply because their weapon, that the government chose to be the winner, wasn’t exactly precisely perfectly spec’ed specifically to 2 aircraft types?

            Damn those bureaucrats for picking something not tailored to LM’s platform.

            It’s all those other aircraft types that CAN deploy it without excess worry and reconfiguring that gain from Raytheon’s weapon (including foreign customers that will probably buy these up faster than they buy AIM-9X iterations).
            9 chances out of 10, F-35 missions won’t be anything more than over-priced, over-glorified bomb trucking in areas where competent modern air defense (both SAMs an enemy aircraft) are out of the picture.

            Can’t carry internally?
            boo hoo.
            It DOES still have functional underwing hardpoint locations, doesn’t it?
            If 1st day/1st week of war versus competent near-peer adversaries where stealth is a must, there will most likely be more important, more formidable, larger longer ranged PGMs with much larger warhead capacity, launched in the first waves. SDBs will most likely be used for clean up later.

          • Riceball

            With the way things are going now chances are (very) likely that the hardpoints will have issues and they won’t have those until another 5 years or so after the SBD II problem by which time the F-35 will be on its way out.

  • Andy

    The guy incharge this program should be fire long time ago….

  • Franklin

    The F35 as a CAS platform was a stupid idea before it ever left the drawing board, and it is just as stupid to think they did not know about it. it does have the capability to work in tandem with a heavy lift platform for target acquisition which the navy really doesn’t have. A cheap naval version of the A10 is what they really need, and it should have UCAV systems.
    This is what happens when politics control military procurements.

    • William_C1

      Except your A-10 would take up the space of two F/A-18s on a carrier deck because it can’t fold the wings! And the A-10 has been out of production for 30 years!

      Think this stuff through.

    • Christopher

      An A-10 can’t fit on a carrier. However a proper (folding flying wing with stealth) successor to the A-7 Corsair II would be good if the both the UMSC and USN dump the F-35. If the Marines really want STOVL then they can partner with Japan for the Mitsubishi ATD-X/F-3.

      • sss

        finally a real idea, and not just the standard “a-10 is better.” having a modern a-7 type bomb truck and dedicated CAS platform iin the CVBG s definitely an interesting thought

    • Riceball

      Not as stupid of an idea as trying to make a plane for 3 different services in one airframe, especially when one of the services requires it to be STVOL capable. If they had gotten rid of the B and just went with the A & C models then I think we’d have a far less compromised aircraft, it may still be plagued with problems but I would imagine far fewer because of the issues involved with compromises in the design due the to the B.

  • oblatt22

    Our Lockheed shill will be along soon to explain how this fraud and incompetence is quite normal and all the fault of someone else.

    Lockheed lies about the problems abnd then lies about the fixes…

    “The SDB II is not intended to deploy on the F-35B when it reaches operational status later this year. The software configuration onboard the F-35B will not be able to fire the SDB II until 2022, JSF officials said.”

    This makes it look like the weapon will be ready in 2022 actually the SDBII will not be operational until 2027. This l”ittle problem” is going to take 5 years to fix.

  • Charles

    “I don’t know that we have a full appreciation of everything we are going to be able to do with the F-35 until we start to actually use it,” Pawlikowski said.
    =====================================
    Providing of course, the F-35 isn’t completely obsolete by the time they get the problems worked out of it.

  • Mark

    From the moment they redesigned it to save weight. It was then they knew the SDB II would not fit, because they took and used measurements of the Bombay when they were uniform in size.

    • Curt

      The redesign was before the SDBII was started. No problem fitting 8 SDBI, or even 4 SDBII and 4 SDBI.

  • steve

    The biggest problem with the F-35 program is the Marine version. They decided they can’t possibly live without a VSTOL version. The VSTOL version has no room for weapons nor fuel, if we could get the Marines to drop the whole thing and get the carrier version, problem solved.

  • Lance

    More troubles for the DoDs biggest mistake. And no AIM-9 tests yet??

  • Guest

    I’m a bit stunned by the stupidity of the majority of the comments thus far.
    The SDB II is a weapon that was imagined, designed and developed years after the F-35B entered production. How pray tell is this Lockheed’s mistake?
    It’s not a problem with the plane. It’s a problem with a newly developed weapon, which is an Air Force program.
    This pretty much falls squarely on the Air Force and to a much lesser extent Raytheon’s shoulders.

    • Brian B. Mulholland

      I politely suggest that if we see fit to build a multi-service, multi-national platform, which platform is intended to replace several earlier ones, there is no excuse for designing a weapon that will not fit in one of the major versions. The F-35B has international customers, too, and this affects them as well. How is it not the fault of the Pentagon’s management that the weapon was not sized for maximum commonality? Is it Raytheon’s fault that the customer apparently failed to develop the specifications to ensure that commonality?

      • Lightingguy

        It’s arguable that the B is a “major” version, given how few will be built for – USMC and RN ?. Not a huge percentage of the overall numbers.

        Still, the primary mission and reason for being of the USMC air component is CAS. has been and will be as long as we want to provide that capability, the design of the SDB II should have accommodated the B aircraft. That’s just incredible incompetence.

        No question the B aircraft are needed by the Marines though, the A/V-8 is getting long in the tooth and having a V/STOL aircraft is integral to the mission, if they want this type of aircraft on the amphib. carriers.

        • guest

          Doesnt the USAF have a ‘requirement’ for 70 odd F35B’s ?

        • blight_

          JSF-B and JSF-C are bit players, and -C is only going to the USN with very little chance of finding use in the Navy of the last two nations that use CATOBAR.

          -A is probably the only serious “major” version.

    • Curt

      Absolutely. It was the SDBII program office that announced the issue, although to be fair, the current aircraft could carry 4 SDBII and 4 SDBI internally, or 8 SDBIs internally if desired, as well as 16 more SDBIIs externally, it just can’t carry more than 4 SDBII internally due to some minor clearance issues. So even without the fix, it could carry up to 20 SDBIIs at a time once the missile is integrated on the aircraft at Block 4. Per the original article that pointed this out, the two program offices have been talking for years and numerous changes were already incorporated into the aircraft and software to allow fielding of the SDBII. The changes to the F-35B bay amounts to one bracket and one hose being rerouted, not like it is a huge issue. So until they are done making changes to SDBII, which is still in development and has had its fair share of failures as well as successes, it is stupid to make any changes to the F-35B bays.

      And to be fair to the SDBII people, they probably made a decision to accept the minor changes on the F-35B as opposed to totally redesigning the weapon to meet the original requirements. This is called engineering trade-off. For instances, when the F-18E couldn’t drop bombs without hitting its own wings with them, the Navy and manufacturer, Boeing, angled out the pylons 3 degrees, accepting a significant increase in drag and reduction of range and acceleration, in order to avoid a massive and expensive redesign of the aircraft. And not to pick on the Super Hornet, they did the same thing when the couldn’t fix a High Angle of Attack instability problem. The Navy accepted that it couldn’t be fixed at a reasonable price and made a NATOPS restriction to avoid the problem.

      • Oblat

        Nonsense th f-35 failed to meet its own clearance specification. And as usual lockheed assumed that they could just downgrade the spec or get paid to fix it later.

        • Guest

          Lockheed failed to ensure the F-35B met clearance standards for a weapon that did not exist, and that they do not make?

          Are you a complete moron?

          • oblatt22

            Yes the F-35 did not meet its own clearance specification.
            The SDBII was designed to meet the F-35 clearance specification.

            Its clear that the F-35 is at fault, you are either stupid or work for Lockheed or both.

          • sss

            thanks oblat you make it real easy…. you a tool!!

      • Brian B. Mulholland

        You clearly know more than I do, so I defer.

        Nicely explained.

    • DawgNayshun

      Has it not occurred, that the modifications on the 35B were assessed, and found to be less minor and a better alternative than re-designing the weapon assuming the loss of capabilities, etc for the SDBii on the other 8-10 platforms it is designed for? The SDBii is packed full of capabilities, and size is just one of many tradeoffs here. To design and employ the weapon based on one variant A/C’s requirements is foolish. Look at the bigger picture.

  • Justin

    The F35 scene is so rushed and plagued by political incompetence it’s getting comical.

    • Charles

      Rushed? Seriously?

      This program is WAY behind schedule – and WAY above projected costs – no matter how you look at it.

      We’ll indeed be fortunate if the F-35 isn’t obsolete by the time it reaches any credible level of operational capability.

    • Vpanoptes

      Well, given what the program and the individual aircraft have cost and will cost, “comical” is not a word I would use – unless you have a very black sense of humor…

  • bobbymike

    This story is misleading, the F-35B cannot fit a full load of SDB II’s not like the story implies it cannot fit AT ALL. You know what it can’t fit a MOAB either.

    • Oblat

      I’m sure you could carry the moab somehow. It would just do it bady, just like everything else the f-35 does.

  • paamf

    Another fault with the gold plated turd

  • paamf

    Whats not getting discussed is how many other programs and upgrades are getting trashed because of this money hole the brass pushed. The house of cards is pretty close to coming down along with U.S. air supremacy. The Navy is close behind with the Littoral.

  • Luke

    The F-35 program is pure political pork!

  • Larry

    Okay boys and girls, don’t get your panties tied in a knot. This wasn’t designed for the bee. It was an add-on so cut the designers and the engineer some slack and life goes on

    • paamf

      A turd is a turd.

  • Dfens

    That’s it. Cancel the program now. All the rest of our stealth VTOL airplanes will fit this bomb internally, why oh why can’t this one? The next program will be better. Lockheed guarantees it, but won’t give you your money back. Actually they plan on waiting untill you cancel this program and then they’re going to laugh their asses off at how stupid the US taxpayer really is. Honestly, I will too. I mean, I felt sorry for you the first dozen times one of these programs was cancelled without building a single weapon, but I just can’t find anymore give-a-damn at this point.

    • crackedlenses

      Am I the only one that remembers that the F-22s had to be reconfigured in much the same way to accomodate the SBD I? Where was all the outrage then?

      • Dfens

        All these programs are the best thing since sliced bread right up until they start building them and suddenly they’re crap and need to be cancelled immediately. It doesn’t matter how many times that cycle repeats, people fall for it every single time.

      • UAVGeek

        The primary mission for the F-22 is air to air, we’d be outraged if it didn’t fit an AIM-120.

        • Dfens

          Would you be “outraged” if it didn’t fit an AIM-122 designed yesterday?

  • William_C1

    Because several commenters here seem to be able to comprehend some ideas here is some clarification.

    – The F-35B as it is now could carry the SDB II internally yet it cannot carry the planned four per weapons bay until modification occurs.

    – This modification involves the redesign of a structural bracket and hydraulic line in the bay.

    – SDB II capability is planned for Block 4 which isn’t until 2022, by then this modification will have occurred.

    – SDB II was designed AFTER the F-35B’s weapon bay had been finalized. So blame Raytheon if you insist on blaming somebody.

    • oblatt22

      – F-35 doesn’t meet it’s own specification.

      – redesign of structural elements needed not just packing optimization, likely to require further structural changes and weight gain.

      – Lockheed is giving them selves to 2027 to integrate the SDBII that is 5 years after the software is available is required to test it and deal with all the resultant changes.
      Lockheed talking point is to concentrate on the optimistic 2022 date for the software as if the whole thing will just work.

      – The SDBII meets the F-35 bomb bay specification but the F-35 doesn’t

      And yet again Lockheed has its hands out asking to pour more money into money pit for a fault that even adequate management could have avoided.

    • balais

      I actually agree with you for once.

      This is a problem that will be addressed because it is absolutely essential for the F35s viability as a CAS aircraft. The SDB, assuming it works as advertised, is that next necessary step.

  • Big-Dean

    news flash “Typical Marine Corp Pilots Don’t Fit Inside Marine’s F-35B cockpit”

    Lockhead spokesman says “Marine Corp pilots tend to be on the larger side of 160 lbs due the amount of pushups they do compared to the other service pilots. But it’s not a problem since Marine Corp F-35B’s are expected to be operational until 2022 so we have time to make adjustments to the cockpit, in the meantime, we’ll have skinny ass little air force pilots fly the F-35B’s and the Marine Corp pilot can train on the simulators.”

    • d. kellogg

      According to that other article with that paraplegic woman flying an F-35 simulator via commands thru implanted brain electrodes, every fat kid in America physically unfit for military service is an F-35 pilot candidate,…provided they’re willing to undergo the brain surgery of implanted electrodes. Pit’s to small for physically fit Marines anyway, why use vulnerable pilots at all?

    • GI dude

      Why not? Marine wives “train” on simulators all the time!

  • crackedlenses

    Am I the only one that remembers that the F-22s had to be reconfigured in much the same way to accomodate the SBD I? Where was all the outrage then?

    Love or hate the F-35, I don’t see how this is an earth-shattering setback. Nothing to see here.

  • Super Tex

    Good thinking getting rid of the A-10’s though…………….eh ? I guess if you need CAS, with more loiter time, than a 2 year olds attn. span. You’re just SOL……..Plus there’s still no gun on the F-35 POS until 2017.

  • dhalgren

    Who designed this flying piece of junk? somehow they got excited and got too far ahead of the curve and know its going to be a case of smashing a square piece of wood into a round hole to make it fit. Another waste of time, money and resources. Perhaps they could talk to the designers of the F15/16/18 to figure out how a plane works.

  • oblatt22

    You have to wonder about all the emphasis on stealth for the CAS mission when most marine aircraft are not shot down but killed on the ground.

  • why not just redesign the bomb?

    • Raven

      Because its not a money pit scheme like the circle jerk airframe not designed to carry it.

    • Curtis Conway

      The weapon is near maturity and just about to enter production. The necessity of this tri-seeker light attack weapon is absolute. The structural modifications to F-35B (only) have already been identified. THAT is why we do this testing. The primary attraction to the SDB-II is its effectiveness and cost/unit. A redesign at this point will destroy that equation.

      • oblatt22

        Yep that’s why you do the testing after producing 35 aircraft and 14 years and with 4 months to go to IOC. That is when you check if the thing can carry its primary weapon.

        • William_C1

          How dare Lockheed not use their DeLorean to go into the future so they could ensure the F-35B’s weapons bays fit a weapon that had not been designed at the time! Greedy fools!

    • Will

      Run over it with a truck a few times and it should fit …. F-35 what a freaken joke!

  • pukindogdave

    Lockheed hasn’t designed a worthwhile aircraft since Kelly Johnson died. LM should concentrate on building dump trucks.

    • Dfens

      You pay them more to fail, and then you’re surprised when they do. Really, whose fault is that?

    • blight_

      Skunk Works designed:

      P-38, P-80, U-2, SR-71, F-117.

      Other Lockheed projects were:

      Polaris SLBM, F-104, C-141, AH-56, C-5.

      Technically, Lockheed has sucked even during the heydey of the Skunk Works. I am skeptical about the whole “Cold War days good, modern days bad”. If anything, procurement was as bad then as it is now…but thanks to technical limitations and the pressures of the Cold War (and occasional hot ones) procurement tended to favor things that could be produced sooner rather than later.

      Now we have JSF-B slated to drop SDB-II’s in 2022, as if the Marines did not need them.

      2022! Either the Harrier will be around that long or the Marines will live without SDB-II and chalk it up to the Marine experience. “We don’t get cool things the Air Force does, because our aircraft design specs, you know…”

      • Dfens

        Hell, I’d be hot shit if I had a resume that included any airplane the Skunk Works designed up to and including the F-117. Kelly Johnson also designed the F-104 and did some aerodynamics work critical to the success of the C-130 too. Just because things suck now in aerospace doesn’t mean they always sucked. Too much revisionist history, not enough learning from history. That could be said of almost every aspect of American life these days.

  • Curtis Conway

    This article is such poor journalism, I’m really beginning to wonder if this website is worth the read. the Marines F-35B cannot hold a full complement of SDB-IIs. The weapons is already fully integrated and just has not completed verification testing. Structural modifications to F-35B are required because it is fundamentally a different aircraft with respect to contained stores. There is less room in “B”s because the the vertical lift capability. Really need to pay closer attention to details or your site will not be worth my time with all the commentary, miss information, and lack of facts.

    • Guest

      Don’t count on objective reporting on three subjects here: the F-35, the A-10 and the Air Force’s commitment to CAS. Just accept that the F-35 will never be worth a damn, the A-10 is forever invincible and the Air Force only cares about looking spiffy in cool jets and you’ll get along fine here.

      • paamf

        Now there’s an unbiased opinion…..”guest”

      • displacedjim

        Guest, you are 100% Right. On. Target! Utterly without question that when it comes to the three interconnected topics you listed, it is a guarantee that the thread will be filled with a crapload of armchair morons and retirees who are certain they know what it takes to best provide CAS, and it for darn sure is exactly what got the job done 40+years ago in the ‘Nam or even WWII/Korea, dang blast it! Oh, that… and the most pathetic collection of the same old worthless BS from oblatt22/Oblat and Lance, with help from Christopher, Charles, d.kellogg, and paamf.

  • Ernie

    What about the F-35C, the Navy’s version, does it fit in it’s weapons bay?

    • DawgNayshun

      Yes, C version’s weapons bay is same as A.

  • chris

    So who’s the single affected pilot? (apostrophe in wrong place…)

  • Pierre S

    We need more A-10 support from the military. The F-35 is vastly overrated and will not survive a major conflict. Stand-off munitions should be emphasized that can attack targets independently. The days of up-close CAS is over!

  • blight_

    From naval-technology:

    According to an Inside Defense report, the joint programme office has confirmed that the F-35 jet’s internal weapons bay is too small to fit four of the eight SDB II bombs required.
    US Air Force F-35 spokesman Joe DellaVedova told Inside: “This is not a new issue to us.
    “We’ve been working with the SDB II programme office and their contractors since 2007. The fit issues have been known and documented and there were larger and more substantial modifications needed to support SDB II that have already been incorporated into production F-35 aircraft.
    “These minor or remaining changes were put on hold until the aircraft reached a sufficient level of maturity to ensure that the needed changes would not adversely impact any ongoing SDB (II) developments.”
    “These minor or remaining changes were put on hold until the aircraft reached a sufficient level of maturity.” DellaVedova added that a contract is due to be awarded to Lockheed later this year for the design modification work.
    Under the $4.1bn SDB II programme, Raytheon expects to deliver around 17,000 weapons, including 5,000 for the US Navy. Raytheon SDB II business development executive Jeff White was reported by ITAF as saying that: “SDB II will not be altered to suit the F-35B.”

    4/8…could be worse. It’s sad that there will be dead space, but hey, the F-35B can use the freed-up mass to carry more fuel, instead of the usual fuel-for-ordnance tradeoff.

    Then there’s InsideDefense (and DefenseIndustryDaily) who are pretty good sources. Apparently the former broke the news on the SDB II issue?

  • rat

    Post number 100!

    Does the STOVL variant really need 8 internal SDBs for the majority of it’s missions? No.

    But nonetheless, this just further demonstrates the lunacy of the program. The variant that hamstrung the USAF and USN A and C is itself hamstrung. Brilliant. The DoD managed to do what the Soviets could not have done if the Cold War turned hot and destroy the combined air forces of the United States. the Ruskies must be laughing their communist behinds off.

    • Dfens

      History shows us that success is often the hardest thing to survive.

  • paamf

    The Britt used Harriers because they do not want to invest in floating cities like we do, not from any strategic benefit or concept. If they weren’t fighting a 3rd world military they would have been royally screwed. As it was their fleet was still hit by 2nd generation aircraft flown by a couple of brave pilots.

  • Cataldo

    Where is the advantage of a sthealth (for now) F35 when you are in line of sight with your targets ?
    Today, in morning readings, i have just seen a picture of an F15E with something like 20 SDB II in fly :) how many F35 are nedeed to do the same ?
    When F35 will be in service (when ? :) a lot of its features will be obsolete, F35 engine is too hot for a stealth fly, and passive bistatic radar network are in development that can trace this kind of target in a new air defence concept.
    Its a big mistake to put all your eggs in one basket !

    • Curt

      1
      The F-35A and F-35C can, well when SDBII actually enters service that is, carry 24 SDBII: 8 internally, 16 externally.
      The F-35B can carry 20: 4 internally, 16 externally. After the minor modifications to the bay (unless you consider changing 1 bracket and re routing a hose major) it can carry 24.
      To be fair, the F-15E can carry 28.
      Once the weapon is integrated with the F-15E and F-35 and it actually finishes testing and enters service, neither of which is done yet, it will even be able to be fired from them!

  • ddd

    Agile development… hidden agendas and milestones… the fakes are for sure the smoke… this is a weapon not your ice cream which must be delivered in 2 secs.

  • GI dude

    At least the F-35B will look cool and they can use it for Superbowl half-time shows!

  • Mottlee

    Rather that rebuild the F35 Rebuild the bomb, It’s smaller

  • mrkbc

    To bad they can’t just use a sledge hammer and bang out a little bit more room in the stealthy bombs bay. That 1/8 of an inch can really make or break Ya at times. And the he software what a joke what is it Commodore 64 stuff. Lol

  • Eques

    It might fit with some proper foreplay.

  • paamf

    I think in order to meet the AF’s newest military multirole aircraft desires we should modify the Osprey. Mini guns out the side, rocket and bomb launchers configured to go out the opened rear hatch. In a pinch we could have a load master or flight engineer roll them out. It can carry the SDBs and other iron. Problem solved, money saved, and the multirole god satisfied. Then again the AF can buy Rafaels and save money too.

  • Guest 32

    Why is this not a surprise?

  • Guest

    The problem is that the GBU-39 has a flyout time measured in quarter hour intervals from maximum range and unless GBU-53 (SDB-II) goes SPEAR-3 with the British microturbine tail kit ($$$$ and it will need a new AGM designator as well as envelope clearance), it’s not going to be much better because as soon as you pop the wings, the munition slows to approximately 250-300 knots.

    CAS is dynamic. People move and/or need help _Right Now_ to take fire off them. Glide weapons are not the solution here, powered ones like the APKWS or Brimstone Hellfire are. The first gives you up to 76 shots worth of 5km standoff and the other something closer to 12 shots at 12km, each with 1m accuracy.

    But both are forward firing which means they have to be loaded on pylons. A lot of people are speculating the development of the SRVL landing mode is an indicator that the F-35B has, in fact, broken it’s weight ceiling and thus adding 1,000lbs for the four pylons and jettison kits would eat into hot’n’hi bring back or mission fuel.

    If not both.

    Yet CAS is not a mission performed with internal ordnance because you simply cannot carry enough to make the necessary difference.

    Add to this a munition cost in the range of 283,000 dollars per GBU-53 (SALH, MMW, IIR seeker + GAINS is -expensive-) and the increasing proliferation of active armor like Relic/Kaktus and APS like Trophy and AMAP-ADS and it becomes apparent that you are paying kong killer costs for killing dispersed infantry as in Afghanistan and don’t have enough penetration factor (speed) for assuredly breaking thru terminal defenses on vehicles.

    As far as loading two on the BRU-61 and calling it good, I’m not so sure. BRU-61 is essentially a mini-MER without the bottom stations which means the rounds load on the ends of the weapon beam to clear each other. This in turn means the rack itself is pretty long so unless you design a new rack for the weapon, you are not going to be doing yourself much good. It should also be mentioned that 4X 285lbs for the weapons and the BRU-61 comes up to 1,650lbs on the GBU-39. That’s much heavier than the GBU-32 and may also exceed bay weight limits.

  • Charles

    Im just a former Army missile tech..so I wont even pretend to know everything you better informed flyguys are comparing.. My comment is this.F35 wastouted to be less expensive due to commonality of parts..and I think that thete is no friggin way in hell that the bomb in question for the 35b should have ever been approved Many someones in govmt, Airforce, AND Raytheon are All responsible for wasting taxpayer money..the math of ‘does the effing bomb fit or not’ dont require a 125 GT score like mine to recognize.

  • Charles

    Whether or not the bomb fits is gradeschool level math..AF, Raytheon AND the govt are ALL culpable for that eff up..even a hillbillyvredneck could tell ya that if it dont fit..thrn it dont effin fit..someone needs to be crucified.

  • Cyberats

    The clear winner was a new YF-23 by Northrop Grumman not “Boing”, with folding wings that would easily serve the USAF as well as USN under the same fuselage with high performance & multi-role payload.
    But that would make too much sense, save money & not increase the expense budget for next year.