First look at ‘dirty’ F-35B

This is what the F-35B looks like with a full load of external weapons, including the 25mm gun pod mounted on the belly. Lockheed Martin released this photo today of the BF-3 prototype, which is now in ground vibration testing. Meanwhile, the BF-1 prototype is expected to return to flight after a very long hiatus “at any minute” today, Lockheed says.


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30 Responses to First look at ‘dirty’ F-35B

  1. Lightndattic 19 August, 2009 at 7:12 pm #

    Hmm.. this begs a couple of questions-

    What’s that on the outermost pylon on the aircraft’s right wing? Why are the middle station LGB’s canted up unlike the ones immediately inboard? From what I can see of the gun pod, it doesn’t look very LO to me. Got a better resolution pic?

  2. Stephen Trimble 19 August, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Send me your email address and I’ll send you a high-res image.

  3. Lightndattic 19 August, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

  4. ultimate747 19 August, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    ooo! could I get a hi-res version?


  5. ELP 19 August, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    Why do you say “prototype”?

    I thought BF..AF… etc are production representative?

  6. Stephen Trimble 19 August, 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    Hi Eric, That’s a fair question. It is true, as I’m sure you already know, the EMD aircraft after AA-1 are production representative. But that “production-representative flight/static/fatigue test aircraft” is a clunky description for the purposes of news copy, and the word production risks confusing the EMD aircraft with the low-rate initial production, which are rolling down the assembly line right now. So prototype is the word we use to describe the EMD aircraft.

  7. Obamanite 20 August, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    Lightndattic: I’ll attempt an (possibly, probably wrong) answer to your questions.

    That on the outermost right wing pylon is what’s on the outermost left wing pylon: an AIM-9X captive carry round.

    My guess is that the middle wing pylons are canted up due to mid-wing airflow issues, either to ensure smooth separation and/or smooth airflow over the wing.

    Regarding that gun pod, if you are hauling around four external GBU-12s and two AIM-9Xs, whether your gun pod is stealthy is the least of your concerns.

  8. FlightDreamz 20 August, 2009 at 2:26 am #

    I hope those pylon’s aren’t as canted outward as they appear in the photo – ala F-18 E/F style!

  9. Brian Lau 20 August, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    Great pic Stephen, can I get a high res pic too? I’m really interested in the gun pod.

  10. symmetric loadout 20 August, 2009 at 5:50 am #

    Lightndattic – looks to me that the thing on the outermost right wing pylon is the same as the one on the left – an AIM-9X

  11. ultimate747 20 August, 2009 at 6:25 am #

    Hmm, not sure if you could see my email as a commenter.. it’s


  12. Tom 20 August, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    Could I get a hi-Res photo, too? My email address is:


  13. Lightndattic 20 August, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Yeah. The high res shows the pylon better. The glare in the above pic almost made it look like an MER rack ala F-111.

    The high res also shows the inner 2 pylons look like they’re at a different AoA because they don’t look fully secured to the wing (you can see they aren’t fitting flush to the wing), although I don’t know why you’d hang munitions on a pylon that isn’t fully bolted to the wing.

    There’s a different colored section on the front of the middle pylons almost like an access cover that the inner pylons don’t have appear to have.

    I’m wondering what that is built into the AIM-9X rail where it meets the pylon. Looks almost like an aperture for something.

    Regarding the gun pod, it looks like the only thing they did to it to make it “stealthy’ was put a fairing over it’s pylon. Who knows? Maybe that works. Maybe it also makes it more stable and rigid so they don’t have the same problems they had when strapping a gun pod on the F-4.

  14. SpudmanWP 20 August, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Looks like you are right about the pylons not being secured and it’s more obvious in the hi-res version.

    It might have something to do with it’s vibration testing.

  15. Shaken 20 August, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    Does anyone ever hear complaints about the various Harrier podded gun solutions? I understand the concerns based on the Phantom II’s legacy, but I think the AV-8B experience is a closer comparison. I suspect we’ll seen none (few?) of the F-4/gun-pod issues, given that the F-35′s pod was designed in from the start.

  16. RhoZeta 20 August, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    The pylons are not flush against the bottom of the wing, none of the wing stations pylons are, I assure you they are installed correctly and TQ’d.(if not, GVT would have been the first to know) The Aim 9 pylons on the otbds are canted oddly, they are first gen LO, newer/better is in work is what we hear.

  17. G-Town Student 20 August, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    Could I have a hi-res as well? My email is neipioi – at – hotmail – dot – com.

    Get used to it being like this, this is how it’ll look normally. BTW, how many bombs can it carry externally?

  18. SkyHunter 21 August, 2009 at 12:29 am #

    What’s that ugly hump behind (as seen on the right side) the cockpit?

    Hi-res too please….

  19. Matthew G. Saroff 21 August, 2009 at 6:14 am #

    What the F-35 can do that the F-22 can’t.

    No qualified external stores for the Raptor.

  20. Npeterman 21 August, 2009 at 3:42 pm #

    Can I get a copy of the Hires at

  21. airplanejim 21 August, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    I guess I am still missing something with the F-35. Going the external stores route, the stealth ability is gone, so we now have a normal air-to-ground fighter with vectored thrust. It has a max weapons load of 18K By the way the cost is still undetermined due to minimal flight testing. If you take the F-15E, 24K weapons load, much longer range and much cheaper to build.

  22. Obamanite 21 August, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    That “ugly hump” behind the cockpit would be where the lift fan goes.

  23. JMT 22 August, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    Hi res pleez –

  24. gratnar2 9 September, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    F-35 will be less expensive than F-15 about the same as F/A-18 but much less expensive to operate. Remeber the external weapons aren’t on the aircraft day one unless Air Dominance already exists. External weapons are employed after the U.S. owns the sky and ground support becomes the issue.

    The F-15 is a great plane, but is only stealthy compared to a B-52 or F-14. i.e. everyone knows your coming. If you can’t see it on radar, the IR signature looks like a Saturn V lit off.

  25. Dixon Stones 13 September, 2009 at 5:37 am #

    I’m the guy who shot this picture. It’s one of a series of pics cleared for release by Lockheed-Martin. Drop me a line if you’d like to see those posted.

  26. 10ringr 23 September, 2009 at 8:02 am #

    Dirty, would mean non stealth mode or if you prefer not storing its loadout internally. Since the bird is bristling with external weapons as well as the gun you can be sure this is not an attempt to run stealthy, hence the word dirty. Hope that helps you. ;)

  27. Catch22 24 October, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Dixon stores I would appreciate the other images that you can release in high res.
    Stephen amd or Dixon stores can you send a high res copy of this image as well thx

  28. Jose Rios 24 October, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Why the heck does this spiffy new fighter NEED a gun pod? Doesn’t the thing have an internal gun? Gee whiz, I would hope we’d learned something from the Phantom’s lack of gunnage.

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